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Dogs days and meteor showers


The days are upon us, but instead of thinking of sweltering temperatures and a scorching sunburn, we’re seeing stars.

The dog days are a period of time from July to mid-August when the star Sirius — called the Dog Star by Romans because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog) — rises just before or at the same time as the sun. This is called a heliacal rising.

The Dog Days were considered an evil time by the Romans, who thought the alignment of the brightest stars of both the day and night skies caused the intense heat, which in turn caused disease, lethargy and even madness.

While today we know the heavens don’t cause the triple-digit days, we do still love looking to them during the dog day nights.

Every year in late July and early August, two meteor showers happen at the same time: the Delta Aquarids and the Perseids.

This year, the bright moon in late July will obscure any view of the spectacular Delta Aquarids, so pre-dawn hours in early August are prime viewing time, with up to 15-20 meteors per hour.

The Perseids meteor shower is the best and brightest in the Northern Hemisphere. The meteors, which at peak can streak by at a rate of 50-100 per hour, leave long, persistent tails and appear all over the sky. August 10-13 will make for the best stargazing nights, with the waxing crescent moon near Saturn providing a colorful opening act for the late night-dawn Perseids show, but the meteors will gradually increase in frequency in the first two weeks of August, and will remain visible for days afterward.

So what do you need to enjoy these dog day displays? Open sky, and lots of it. That’s where we come in …

Our backpacking trips are the perfect escape from the heat and noise of the city. Take two-three days to explore Colorado, and bask in the solitude that the mountains offer.

See the meteor showers the way they were meant to be seen; no light pollution, no noise, and absolutely nothing between you and the heavens.

See http://www.coloradowildernessridesandguides.com/backpacking for more information, or call us today to book your trip!

The 2012 Perseids shower over the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. Photo by Stéphane Guisard, courtesy of ESO

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