Canis Major is a relatively small, but very noticeable constellation to the west of the feet of Orion the hunter. Canis Major (an ancient constellation) is most well know as being the home of the brightest star, Sirius.
Canis major is one of the two hunting dogs of Orion, the other being Canis Minor, to the west of Orion’s shoulders. It also contains a bright star, Procyon.
The Myth of Canis Major
Sirius is a star not only beautiful to look at, but has a vast history and mythology. Sirius was the star around which the ancient Egytians based a calendar. To them, the rising of Sirius before the Sun signified the Nile flooding and the bringing of fertility to the dry flood plains. Is it any wonder that the people started to connect events in the Heavens with events on the Earth!
For the ancient Greeks, the scorching heat of Sirius, combined with the Sun in July/Augut (as both the Sun and Sirius would be in the sky during the day) gave the heat of the ‘dog days’. Some tribes worship the pale bluish-white light of Sirius, and it has a magic for all observers when shining in the black of night, twinkling all the colous of the rainbow while it dazzles the eye.
- Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor – Astronomy Picture of the Day 4th March 2004 (move your cursor over the image to identify the constellations)