Today marks the start of the "dog days", 40 days that run from July 3 through August 11 when Sirius, the Dog Star, is visible every day with the rising sun. Sirius is known by this name as it is located in the constellation Canis Major, or the Big Dog. Our ancestors also associated the star with the weather at this time of the season as we experience the hottest days of the year. And as we see our furry friends lying about limply in the heat and humidity, the "dog days" have taken on another meaning entirely.
Today the earth also reaches aphelion, when in its orbit it is farthest from the sun.