Your family guide to stargazing the ‘dog days’ of summer

Check out these star charts to introduce the season’s coolest skylights to kids.

As the Northern Hemisphere settles into the scorching heat of summer in July and August, your kids might feel like a panting dog lazing around on a muggy afternoon. It makes sense, but the phrase “dog days of summer” actually has cosmic origins.

The saying comes from an ancient misconception about the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. But there’s no misconception about cool things your kids can spot in the sky between July 3 and August 11—the official dog days. Here’s how to explore this stellar season with your family.

Sirius is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major, or “big dog” in Latin. (The star is in the dog’s nose or neck, depending on the artist.) People have identified a dog shape in this cluster of stars since at least the eighth century B.C., when Greek sky watchers first named the constellation and imagined that it was a companion dog to Orion, the great hunter constellation.

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