The summer is winding down and it's...HOT! As some might say, these are the "Dog Days of Summer." We've always wondered exactly what that meant, so we turned to our beloved National Geographic magazine and found an in depth explanation...and it's not what you think!
From the National Geographic article "Why Do We Call Them The Dog Days of Summer" by Becky Little,
"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.” (Little, Becky "Why Do We Call Them The Dog Days of Summer," National Geographic , 10 July 2015, https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150710-dog-days-summer-sirius-star-astronomy-weather-language/)