(WLOX) - The dog days of summer actually have nothing to do with the heat or even a dog for that matter. The dog days of summer refer to the constellation Canis Major. The dog star Sirius is the brightest star in the sky which will be visible in the morning sky before sunrise through August 11(ish).
The ancients believed that the fact that it was the brightest star had to do with how hot it was.
“Sirius is not the brightest star because it is more luminous than other visible stars, but because it is located so close to the solar system. It is the fifth closest star system to Earth and contains two of the eight nearest stars to Earth,” according to constellation-guide.com.
The dog days run from July 3 to August 11 and can be seen in the morning sky.
According to space.com, the dog star Sirius, “is located in the constellation Canis Major, the Big Dog, and is shown on most star maps as fixed in the dog’s nose (although in his 1954 book “Find the Constellations,” author H.A. Rey refers to Sirius as “a remarkable dog tag”). The star rises soon after and slightly south of the constellation Orion. Canis Major itself is a fine constellation composed of a number of bright stars, three of which form a very distinct triangle that marks this celestial canine’s hindquarters. It is said to be one of two dogs — the other being Canis Minor, the Little Dog — both belonging to Orion, who is leading his faithful companions across the sky.”
The best viewing time is in the morning sky, before dawn, looking east.
“The easiest way to locate Sirius in the night sky is by using the stars of the Orion’s Belt as pointers. The three bright belt stars – Alnilam, Alnitak, and Mintaka, point downward to Sirius to the left. Sirius is about 8 times as far from the Orion’s Belt as the belt is wide,” says the constellation-guide.com website.
Interesting facts about Canis major can be found on astronomytrek.com.
It is 8.6 light years away from Earth. For more history and facts on the constellation, check out this article about Sirius: The Dog Star on constellation-guide.com website.