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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Pleiades: mythology of the Seven Sisters

In Rome and in Greece, in this period, the Pleiades were remembered, and predictions were made on the illnesses of the season. In short, the Pleiades were the seven sisters who, at the time of their death, were transformed into stars from Zeus. After the spring equinox, the ancients were careful not to expose themselves to the unstable climate of the period to avoid the seasonal ills. Since the ascent of the Pleiades coincided with this period, it was common opinion that the constellation was somehow linked to the climate.…

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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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Charles’ Oak: the lost constellation to honor a King’s escape.

In 1651, after the battle of Worcester, Charles II, who would go on become the king of England, climbed a tree. Nothing strange….the future monarch would later say to have ensconced himself in the branches of the oak in Boscobel Wood, while the troops who fought the Royalists over how England should be governed, passed below. According to the legend, he had to stay there, dead quiet, until his enemies buggered off. His hiding spot, later called the Royal Oak, once the monarchy was restored, was commemorated also on pieces…

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