Pat Shingleton for Thursday, July 25, 2013

Canis Major, or Sirius, was designated the “Dog Star” by ancient astronomers. As noted in a previous column, Romans believed Sirius rose before or at sunrise, convinced this star was the cause of hot, sultry weather. To appease the rage of Sirius and believing the star caused the pattern, they sacrificed a brown dog, thus the reference Dog Days. Ancient Rome catalogued the Dog Days from July 24 through Aug. 24 and The Old Farmer’s Almanac lists the traditional timing as the 40 days from July 3 to Aug. 11. Since June 20, the sun has reached its highest point and slowly begins its track toward the equator. In 2012, we logged two 101-degree readings. This season, July 12 recorded 96 with June 14 at 95. Fastcast: Stuffy.