The Dog Days of Summer are actually drawing to a close, but I couldn’t let August go without my wave goodbye to summer as September waits in the wings. As I hang my head in shame for not blogging in so long, I hope I can make up for it in the weeks to come as I plan on being more active in my blogging.
This summer has proved to be very busy for me, from having to buy a new car as my Old Faithful 11yr old Ford Focus bit the dust, to working a great deal of overtime at my work (hey, we all have to pay the bills!), to looking for a new home. So I haven’t done as much artwork as I would have liked, but the past few weeks I have been busy with new projects, one of them the illustration that you see above.
I had a lot of fun illustrating it as Astronomy was always one of my favorite subjects, and the history behind the term “Dog Days of Summer” is a neat one. It has ties to Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egyptian times.
The Dog Days refer to the hottest days of the year, which in the Northern Hemisphere are usually around mid-July to late August. While one may picture an old dog panting and sleeping in the shade to escape the heat when one hears the term, it actually has to do with the star Sirius, which is a part of the constellation “Canis Major”.
In ancient times, during the late days of July and August, Sirius and Canis Major were visible just before sunrise as they travel the same path as the sun during that time of year. Once the sun rises, they disappear from visibility…but they are still there! In Ancient Rome, it was believed that Sirius, being the brightest star in the sky and second only to the sun, must be responsible for the heat as there were “two suns” in the sky during this time. Obviously back then it was not yet discovered that it is the Earth’s axis in proximity to the sun that is responsible for the unbearable heat. While Sirius is certainly the brightest star in the sky, we don’t receive heat from it.
In modern times, one can see Canis Major and Sirius from mid-July to early August just before sunrise, but the term Dog Days are still considered to be August through early September.
I hope everyone has a chance to enjoy the dwindling days of summer before they disappear for another year! Go swimming in a lake, take a bike ride, make s’mores around a campfire, or lay outside under the moon and stars…get outdoors and have fun!