Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog Days

Hey I was just wondering why we call the "dog days" the "dog days". I'd like to think we've had some, but it just hasn't been hot enough to growl about. I feel a bit guilty being so happy with the cool gray days, but the hot shop has been cozy during the many rain storms of late. In any case today is the official end of the "dog days", so let's at least say hooray for the dogs we know, Grover the goofy golden who accompanies Nate to glass blowing sessions and our little friend Serafina the official hot shop dog and "door bell" who heralds visitors arrivals when we might be too busy to notice....

DOG DAYS: In the summer, Sirius, the dog star rises and sets with the sun. During late July Sirius is in conjunction with the sun, and the ancients believed that its heat added to the heat of the sun, creating a stretch of hot and sultry weather. They named this period of time, from 20 days before the conjunction to 20 days after, "dog days" after the dog star.

The conjunction of Sirius with the sun varies somewhat with latitude. And the precession of the equinoxes (a gradual drifting of the constellations over time) means that the constellations today are not in exactly the same place in the sky as they were in ancient Rome. Today, dog days occur during the period between July 3 and August 11. Although it is certainly the warmest period of the summer, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a far-away star, regardless of its brightness. No, the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth's tilt.

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