The ancient origins of the Dog Days of Summer

According to popular folklore: “Dog Days bright and clear Indicate a happy year; But when accompanied by rain, For better times, our hopes are vain.” It sounds good…but what are the Dog Days of summer, exactly? And what do they have to do with dogs? The exact dates of the Dog Days can vary from source to source and probably they have changed over time. However, most sources agree that they occur in mid- to late summer, from July 3 to August 11. This is soon after the Summer Solstice…

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August 10th: the tears of Saint Lawrence and the night of the shooting stars

In August, as Earth’s orbit crosses the dust ejected by the comet Swift-Tuttle (the largest object known to repeatedly pass by Earth) provides a fabulous spectacle for viewers on Earth. It is a regular event every year and, as usual, it will reach its peak between the 10th of August (St. Lawrence) and the 12th. Despite talk of “shooting stars”, the Perseids are actually debris (dust and ice) left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle as it goes around the Sun. The comet last reached perihelion, the closest point to the…

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