Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Dog Days of Summer

It's August and it's hot in the midwest (and most other areas of the country). These days at the beginning of August have been called the "Dog Days of Summer." Try asking several people why they are called the "dog days" or even when the "dog days" are and you will get varying answers that are most often preceded by the disclaimer, "I'm not really sure but I've heard that..."

Alpha Canis Major is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (or The Big Dog). The common name for this star is Sirius and it is often called the "dog star." You may recall that the symbol for Sirius satellite radio is a dog with a star for it's eye.

Anyways the star Sirius has just come out from behind the sun and is the last star visible in the morning sky during the first week of August. Incidently, the name Sirius is Greek for burning or scorching. As with all stars and constellations, it will continue to rise about four minutes earlier every day and will soon be burning brightly in the early morning sky. See Sidereal day to understand the four minute difference between a sidereal day and a solar day.

I should mention that Sirius is also the brightest star to the planet earth (excluding our own sun, of course!)

Have fun with this one the next time you hear that "dog days" phrase. You may even have to throw it out there yourself. But have fun anyways.


Class dismissed.

1 comment:

David said...

I feel smarter already! Thanks John!