What does canicula mean?

What is the canicula

Canicula  or Canicular period is a term used for a climatic condition associated with heat waves in general.

They are associated with the presence of almost stationary anti-cyclonic atmospheric circulations, which are found during atmospheric blocking events .

The term heat wave is also used, but without taking gravity into account.

The term “ canicula ” refers to very hot days.


Originally the word should only be used for the hottest days of the year , but is often used to describe any very hot day.

But the word comes from ancient Greece and is due to a constellation

The canicular period depends on the position of the star Sirius, which is part of the Canis Major (Big Dog) constellation.

The Greeks and Romans believed that the hottest days began when the star Sirius appeared just before sunrise in late July.

This astronomical phenomenon had anticipated days of very high temperatures , the hottest of the year, which brought fever and catastrophes.

But the star is not an indication for the hottest days of the year for several reasons.

The first is geographical. Although July and August are, in fact, the hottest months in the northern hemisphere, the same is not true for the southern hemisphere.

In the same hemisphere, at different latitudes, the star is visible at different times of the year. In Athens, the star will appear in mid-August this year, but it will be further south earlier and north later.

The stars change position regardless of the time of year.

This is because the rotation of the Earth causes a wobble that changes the position of the stars in relation to the Earth.

This phenomenon causes the sky to move about one degree every 50 years , says Larry Ciupik, an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium.

For these reasons, the days of heat waves in ancient Greece do not coincide with those of today. In a few millennia (around 13,000 years) this phenomenon will not even occur in the summer.

[su_animate type=”rotateInUpRight” duration=”1.5″] Other Meanings:

  • What does Temperature mean [/su_animate]

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