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Weather Talk: Summer's dog days refer to Sirius, the Dog Star

Days of hot and sticky weather, often during the high summer months of July and August, are commonly referred to as the dog days.

This term is thousands of years old and is a reference to Sirius, the Dog Star. Sirius is the brightest star visible in the sky (not including the moon, the sun, and the other planets). It is seen more easily from latitudes closer to the tropics where, coincidentally, there is also more hot weather. 

Ancient Greeks as well as others believed the hot weather during late summer was due to heat from Sirius combining with heat from the sun as the bright star could be seen rising and setting in tandem with the sun for a few weeks during the hottest part of the year.

Some ancient cultures may have even sacrificed dogs to the gods to encourage the hot weather to end. Fortunately, this summer’s dog days have been relatively cool, so far.      

Have a weather question you’d like answered? Email weather@wday.com, or write to WDAY Stormtracker, WDAY-TV, Box 2466, Fargo, ND 58108 Read the blog at http://www.stormtrack.areavoices.com

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