The Ancient Greek Origins of the ‘Dog Days of Summer’ - History Brought Alive
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The Ancient Greek Origins of the ‘Dog Days of Summer’

The sweltering “dog days” of summer may conjure images of listless dogs baking in the sweltering heat, but the moniker has nothing to do with panting dogs. Rather, it’s a throwback to ancient civilizations tracking the seasons by looking up at the sky.

According to Greek mythology, Sirius was the hound of the Hound of Orion, the star the ancient Romans placed in the constellation Canis Major (Latin for “The Great Dog”).

The date of the “dog days” in the calendar is now a few weeks later than it was thousands of years ago, as the wobble of Earth’s rotation changes the positions of the stars in the night sky. The ancient Egyptians noticed the rising sun of Sirius 5,000 years ago, just before sunrise, just before the annual flood of the Nile and the summer solstice.

Today, the exact dates vary by latitude, but Old Lunar reports that the traditional “dog days” in the U.S. run from July 3 to August 11. In about 10,000 years, the date of the Sirius Sunrise will be so late on the calendar that future Northern Hemisphere civilizations will experience the “dog days” of winter.


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