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Why Do We Call Them the 'Dog Days' of Summer?

It doesn't have anything to do
with dogs lying around in the heat,
the phrase comes from ancient
Greek beliefs about a star.

By Becky Little, National Geographic

The ancient Greeks thought of the
constellation Canis Major as a dog chasing
 Lepus, the hare. The star Sirius is the dog’s
nose; the Greeks called it the “dog star.”

DogStar
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The “dog days,” I always thought, were those summer days
so devastatingly hot that even dogs would lie around on the
asphalt, panting. 

Many people today use the phrase to mean something like that—
but originally, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs,
or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, it turns out,
the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position
in the heavens.

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the
day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July.
They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year,
a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.

“If you go back even as far as Homer, The Iliad, it’s referring to
Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being
associated with war and disaster,” said Jay B. Holberg,
author of Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky
and senior research scientist at the University of Arizona
Lunar & Planetary Laboratory. “All throughout
Greek and Roman literature, you found these things.”

The phrase “dog days” was translated from Latin to English
about 500 years ago. Since then, it has taken on new meanings.

Continue reading about Dog Days...
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150710-dog-days-summer-sirius-star-astronomy-weather-language