“Dog Days” of Summer!

sirius-a-and-b

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”

― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Hello, Bright Light!

I hope this finds you well in every way.  And I hope you are finding ways to stay cool and beat the summer heat while helping our animal friends to do the same! 

I have not shared with you on this blog in FOUR months! We’ve had a lot on our plate since my last post.  But today I am very excited about something in the skies, so I am making time to share.

This will be a short post because we are still unpacking and getting settled after our PCS (Big Move) from the west coast to the east coast!  Since we are still in the swing of Summertime, I thought this would be fun to share with you. I hope it inspires you!


Did you know … ?

The expression “dog days of summer” was not originally referring to the oppressive heat and laying around like a tired dog in the summer.  It actually refers to the period from July 3 through Aug. 15 when the “dog star”, Sirius, holds a most prominent position in the nightsky!  Sirius is nicknamed the “Dog Star” because it is part of the constellation Canis Major, which is Latin for “the greater dog.” Eventually the phrase “dog days” was poorly translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago; taking on a new meaning.

 

dog days of summer _Canis Major_Constellations

 


The History of Sirius 

For centuries, the effect of Sirius’ light with the combination of our Sun’s energy was understood to have an effect on all life on Earth.  In Egypt, Sirius’ return to the night sky became a precursor to the annual flooding of the Nile, and was associated with the goddess Sopdet.  In Greece, the sighting of Sirius was the precursor to their hot summer and thunderstorms.

 

dog days of summer_dog and rabbit_ancient greeks_sirius Star
The ancient Greeks saw the constellation Canis Major as a dog chasing Lepus, the hare. The star Sirius is the dog’s nose; the Greeks called it the “dog star.”

 

Today, this star is still considered powerful to life on planet Earth.  Sirius, located in the Canis Major constellation, can be considered directly ‘upstream’ from our solar system in a cosmic sense that refers to its relative position in the Milky Way galaxy.  A highly-charged stellar field, it is said to be currently bringing in high-end electromagnetic currents into our solar system, affecting the solar activity and planetary vibrations of every celestial being on Earth. It’s also known to be directly involved in the 8/8 Gateway that we are all  currently in now.

sirius (1)
Photo By: H.E. Bond, E. Nelan, M. Burleigh, J.B. Holberg, STScI, NASA


Bright Lights

When stars reach the end of their evolution, smaller stars—those up to eight times as massive as our own sun— become “white dwarfs.”  These ancient stars are incredibly dense; a mere teaspoonful of their matter would weigh as much as an elephant.

Sirius A Sirius B
This picture is an artist’s impression showing how the binary star system of Sirius A and its diminutive blue companion, Sirius B, might appear to an interstellar visitor.

 

Even as a dwarf star, Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky,  even though it’s 8.8 light-years away from Earth!  The Sirius system is the fifth known closest stellar system.  Sirius observes a period of almost exactly 365¼ days between risings.  Although this incredible star continues to return to the night sky in late summer, its position continues to gradually shift relative to the Sun.  Several millennia from now, this astrological event won’t even occur during the summer.  Roughly 13,000 years from now, Sirius will be rising with the sun in mid-winter. Scientists say that in 26,000 years, the dog days will completely move all around the sky.

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Stars like our sun fuse hydrogen in their cores into helium. White dwarfs are stars that have burned up all of the hydrogen they once used as nuclear fuel.  Fusion in a star’s core produces heat and outward pressure, but this pressure is kept in balance by the inward push of gravity generated by a star’s mass. When the hydrogen used as fuel vanishes, and fusion slows, gravity causes the star to collapse in on itself.

Sirius
Sirius B is the nearest known white dwarf star to Earth.

 


How to Locate Sirius in the Night sky:

Have you noticed a very bright, twinkling star in the predawn/dawn sky?  That star is Sirius.  It’s so bright that, when it’s low in the sky, it shines with glints of red and flashes of blue!  Sirius is highly visible in the Northern Hemisphere night sky because it has a high relative luminosity to other stars, and it’s relatively close to Earth.   If the star were placed next to Earth’s sun, Sirius would outshine our sun more than 20 times.  To find Sirius, use the belt of Orion as a pointer.  The three stars point downward toward Sirius to the left.

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Orion the Hunter and Sirius the Dog Star.

 

The very noticeable constellation Orion the Hunter rises before dawn at this time of year, recognizable for the short straight line of three stars that make up Orion’s Belt. And the sky’s brightest star Sirius – sometimes called the Dog Star because it’s part of the constellation Canis Major the Greater Dog – follows Orion into the sky as the predawn darkness gives way to dawn.

Orion and the nearby star Sirius will become visible in the evening by northern winter (or southern summer). But presently the Hunter and the Dog Star lord over the southeastern sky at dawn’s first light.

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Simple Stargazing

If you are into the stars and the night sky, I highly recommend getting the Sky Guide App.   I wish I had this as a kid.  I used to lug my huge telescope around the neighborhood at night. This is much easier! 😀  It is So Cool to see constellations so clearly on your phone!  And the Sky Guide automatically adjusts to your viewing direction so you can easily identify stars, planets, constellations and so much more! You can see a demo here.

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a screenshot of Sirius in the constellation of Canis Major from my iphone

 


Must-See Meteor Shower!

Also, if you were not aware, the 2018 Perseid meteor shower peaks this weekend.  The upcoming new moon on August 11 guarantees darker nights, so it’ll be easier to see.  The Perseid meteors tend to be bright enough to be seen in suburban skies. Sky Guides are saying the mornings of August 12 and 13 are best for viewing,  but August 10 and 11 will be good, too.  Check out these tips for watching 2018’s Perseid meteors!

 

perseids-en-2018


Stellar Sights!

I know this a switch-up from my usual posts about animal behavior, training, and enrichment, but this is no less important.  I have discovered that when we allow wonder to permeate our being, this sense of wonder and awe flows into all other areas of our life.  When we choose to see life through the eyes of a child, filled with wonder and awe, transformations occur.  When we set out to see new sights, our perceptions change. If we are willing to see things differently, we change, as does the world around us.

I hope that you will create space to view the beauty of space with your beloved animal companions.  May the nightsky and the bright lights within it remind you of the Light within you and your animal companions.

Blessings to you and your beloveds! And Happy Summertime!

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos


 

 

 

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