The hottest and muggiest days of summer fall between early July and early September. They are called "Dog Days" after Sirius, the biggest star within Canis Major, a constellation the ancient astronomers thought resembled a dog. Sirius is also the brightest star of the night sky and for a period of time each summer, it rises and sets with the sun. The ancients believed that the earth received heat from the stars, as well as from the Sun, so that when Sirius rises and sets with the sun (a phenomena that occurs in late July), the extra heat it provides to the earth was responsible for the hot and muggy "dog days" of summer. In actuality, the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth's tilt.
Some tips for surviving the Dog Days of Summer? Surprisingly, eating spicy foods can actually help you to feel cooler because they induce sweating, which is the body's mechanism for cooling off. Tempted to drink sports drinks? While okay for athletes who sweat a lot in hot weather, the normal person doesn't need the special electrolytes and added sugars. Your best bet is chilled water. Know the early warning signs of heat stroke ... dizziness, exhaustion, confusion, lack of appetite, headache, and, of course, excessive thirst. Crave coffee? Try drinking an iced coffee by brewing your favorite k-cup over a big cup of ice. Add chocolate or caramel syrup for extra flavor and perhaps a dollop of your favorite ice cream. Absolutely yummy!