It’s been hot the last week or so and everyone is getting a little tired of the ongoing heat. Fewer people are out walking and, for sure, there are fewer dogs out for their daily runs. We really haven’t had a break and it seems to me that we are out every day watering the plants so they don’t die. It’s just plain oppressive. And today, we can actually smell the aftermath of all the fireworks that were set off last night to celebrate the 242nd birthday of our country. Janet is particularly susceptible to the heat so we have been taking it pretty easy – much more time inside or, at most, on the covered lower patio before it gets unbearable each day.
I was listening to the news several days ago and the commentator announced that we were entering the dog days of summer. I wondered where that phrase came from and soon I was researching it. It seems that many people think that the phrase comes from the fact that dogs lay on the asphalt and are lethargic, rather than running around, because it is so hot out. In fact, right now on television, they are interviewing a dog expert on how to take care of our animals during this time of year! That explanation, though, just didn’t make sense to me. Yes, it is hot, and the dogs don’t like to run around quite as much, but they certainly don’t want to lay on hot pavement – especially when there is grass nearby.
The other information I found seems much more credible. From what I understand, summer time is when the dog star, Sirius, is in line with the sun (called conjunction) and so the term “Dog Days” was coined when this phenomenon happens. In fact, technically, the closest alignment occurs on July 23rd and astronomers agreed that 20 days each side of this day would constitute the “official” dog days of summer. So… this period of time starts on July 3rd and ends on August 11th. Hence, the “dog days” of summer!
Sure enough, this coincides with what is traditionally the hottest part of the summer, which really doesn’t have anything to do with the alignment of the sun and Sirius. However, for many years it was believed that warmth from the star Sirius added to the heat we already get from the sun and this caused the oppressive summer temperatures to rise. Before we knew as much about the stars, this was the prevalent view of the “dog days”.
Sirius is, however, the brightest star in the sky and part of the constellation Canis Major; otherwise known as the Great Dog. His companion, Canis Minor, is another constellation in the sky, and is known as the Lesser Dog. These two animals were believed to be the hunting dogs of the great Orion and both constellations were discovered back in the second century by Ptolemy, who was an Egyptian astronomer and mathematician of Greek descent.
Another constellation, Lepus, appears at the feet of Orion and this constellation, also called The Hare, seems to be the object of the hunt that Orion and the dogs are on. It’s all quite interesting, isn’t it? Kind of fun to study the stars and the sky… I have always enjoyed looking at the night sky.
When you are away from the city, with the absence of light pollution, it is impossible to count the stars. While we learn in Genesis that God created the greater light and the lesser light (the Sun and the Moon), He also created the stars. When God entered into the covenant with Abram, we are told about the magnitude of the number of descendants of Abram – as God used a comparison to the stars of the sky.
In 0ur verse for tonight, from Genesis 15:5-6, Moses tell us about Abram’s encounter with the Lord – “He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
My encouragement this evening is that God did bless Abram and he became the father of many nations. That includes those of us who claim to be Christians; and that pleases God. My prayer is that we will all enjoy the “dog days” of summer this year – after all, schools are still on summer break and we get the chance to see family members who live in different areas and enjoy our time with them! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…