Q: What are the “dog days of summer?”
A: It’s a slang term for the hottest time of the year, explains Brent McRobertsof Texas A&M University. “In general terms, it’s the time between early July and early September when the highest temperatures occur in the Northern Hemisphere,” he says. “The ancient Egyptians named the brightest star in the sky Sirius, which they labeled the ‘dog star’ after one of their mythic gods. Sirius could be seen in the sky during this time and they believed it was responsible for the intense summer heat.”
Q: Are the “dog days” really the hottest time of the year?
A: Almost always, adds McRoberts. “Today, we usually mark the ‘dog days’ as occurring from July 3 to the middle of August, but other countries mark them differently,” he says. “It is usually the hottest and most uncomfortable time of the year. That’s why ‘dog days’ also refer to periods of any inactivity or a slow time of the year. For decades, the term has been used on Wall Street to refer to very slow times of economic activity in the stock market, and brokers call non-moving stocks ‘dogs’ in reference to the ‘dog days’ of summer.”
Weather Whys is a service of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University.