Why do they call them ‘the dog days of summer?’ Its origins, explained | Five for the Weekend

It all stems from ancient astronomy and Classical literature. 

By: - July 31, 2021 6:30 am

(c) ohishiftl – Stock.Adobe.com starry night sky fully with the stars

Happy weekend, all.

This year, the “dog days” of summer span from July 3 – Aug. 11. The phrase “dog days of summer” and corresponding timeframe is often associated with the unrelenting and punishing heat that plagues this time of year. But do you know the origins of the phrase?

It all stems from ancient astronomy and Classical literature.

Greek astronomers noted that the Sirius, also known as “the dog star” and part of the Canis Major constellation, rose in conjunction with the Sun during this time of year, which they believed caused the sweltering heat.

The brightest star in the night sky, it’s no wonder ancient astronomers believed Sirius to be the cause of the mid-summer heat.

According to scholars, there’s even references to Sirius in Homer’s The Iliad

But while July and August are often the hottest months of the year in the northern hemisphere, scorching hot days do not always correspond with the rise of Sirius and the Sun, making the long-lived Greek phrase a bit of a fallacy.

Those interested can read more about the origins of the “dog days of summer” in this more detailed story from National Geographic. 

As always, the top 5 stories from this week are below. 

Row houses in Philadelphia (Capital-Star file)

1. As federal eviction moratorium ends, state officials tell Pennsylvanians to apply for rental assistance

With the federal eviction moratorium set to end this week, state officials gathered in York County on Monday to urge Pennsylvanians who need help paying for rent to apply for assistance through an emergency assistance program.

“For nearly 18 months, Pennsylvania and the nation have endured the instability, anxiety, and dangers of a global pandemic,” acting Human Services Secretary Meg Snead, joined by local leaders, said during a news conference. “The federal moratorium on evictions was a reprieve to keep people safe and housed through the worst of these public health and economic crises, but we must act now and use this historic investment available through ERAP to prevent avoidable evictions and housing insecurity.”

Snead’s comments Monday underline a call her agency first made in May, urging Pennsylvanians at risk of losing their homes to take advantage of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

(Image via pxHere.com)

2. Americans are deserting the pews. How one simple step could reverse it | John A. Tures

America has been hemorrhaging Christian followers in generally and Protestants in particular.  But today’s churches could turn the corner, by following Jesus’ example and casting their nets on the other side of the boat, taking a “leap of faith” that a different approach might work.

On a recent Sunday morning, I woke up early, joined my daughter on West Point Lake.  We kayaked out among a growing number of pontoon crafts, as well as Supras, Malibus and Axis boats.  But we weren’t skipping church.  We were taking up the collection in our nets for First United Methodist Church of LaGrange’s “Church on the Hooch,” a nod to the Chattahoochee River, which flows in and out of this recreational lake on the border of Alabama and Georgia.

That day, while our pastor and associate were handling the duties downtown, Rev. Yolanda Jones-Colton and her flock from the Smith Chapel United Methodist Church in Pine Mountain, Georgia.  And boats from across the lake joined in the service.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: A pro-Trump mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

3. Pa. man with ties to GOP lawmaker — and Trump ally — Sen. Doug Mastriano arrested for Jan. 6 involvement

A Pennsylvania man with ties to state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, is facing federal charges for allegedly assaulting police at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

Federal agents arrested Samuel Lazar, a 35-year-old Lancaster County resident, on Monday for crimes related to the breach of the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.

Open-source video and policy body camera footage confirm Lazar, who was dressed in tactical gear, wearing protective goggles, and donning face paint, was at the U.S. Capitol the day rioters attempted to stop the certification of the 2020 election.

According to court documents, Lazar maced a line of police officers, while allegedly attempting to remove a bike rack.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, joins GOP colleagues in Fulton County, Pennsylvania on July 23, 2021, to respond to decertification of voting machines. (Screenshot)

4. ‘This is not about politics’: Pa. GOP lawmakers accuse Department of State of intimidation tactics

With two of three counties declining to comply with a “forensic investigation” into Pennsylvania’s elections, the GOP state senator who’s pushing the review is keeping quiet about what’s next.

Instead, Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, and some of his Republican colleagues have turned their focus toward the Department of State after it decertified Fulton County voting machines for participating in a Mastriano-backed audit.

“If you’re afraid of transparency, you’re part of the problem,” Mastriano, who has repeated baseless claims of a rigged election, said Friday outside of the Fulton County courthouse.

Joined by Republican Fulton County Commissioner Stuart Ulsh, Sen. Judy Ward, R-Blair, and Rep. Jesse Topper, R-Bedford,  Mastriano accused Democrats and the Department of State of trying to “threaten and bully” counties, so they don’t comply with similar reviews.

(Image via pxHere.com)

5. Hoarding billions in stimulus dollars leaves small businesses behind | Opinion

In case you missed it: Republicans who control the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate went home for the summer after passing a budget that hid away billions of dollars in stimulus money instead of using it for what it was meant for: helping workers and businesses.

We all know restaurants, bars and social clubs were hit hard by COVID-19. These businesses couldn’t move to remote operation when the virus hit, and their impact on our communities is much, much larger than their annual revenues.

These are the mom-and-pop operations that not only create the jobs, but also sponsor the Little League team, allow young entrepreneurs to sell lemonade or cookies outside the front doors, and host nights where part of your bill supports other community efforts.

Sadly, revenue at these small community businesses is down almost a third from pre-pandemic levels – and one in four of those businesses have shut the doors. The numbers are even more staggering for Black and women-owned businesses.

And that’s the week. See you back here next weekend.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.