Background

Sirius Travel is named for Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. Through time, Sirius has shone faithfully in the winter sky when the nights are their longest. Following Orion, the hunter, Sirius is part of the constellation Canis Major – Orion’s hunting dog – always at the hunter’s knee. Once a year Sirius disappears in the light of the sun only to reappear in the early morning close to the summer solstice.

More than 5000 years ago, the predawn rising of this bright star alerted the ancient Egyptians to the imminent annual flood of the Nile River. The ancient Greeks and Romans thought that Sirius added just enough heat and light to make late summer uncomfortable – hence “dog days”.

Sirius is a bright, white star. Yet there are many references in ancient literature to its redness. Astronomers have been attempting to come up with an explanation for this ‘red’ Sirius anomaly for hundreds of years. Babylonian cuneiform texts, and the writings of classical Greco-Roman authors, including Cicero, Horace, Seneca and Ptolemy, refer consistently to Sirius as a red or reddish star. Seneca (c.25AD) stated the redness of Sirius to be ‘deeper than that of Mars’. Modern astronomers have debated whether Sirius could have changed its intrinsic color from reddish to white in only two millennia. This debate has been on-going for two centuries, but there has been no clear resolution.

Comparing ancient and modern observations, Sirius was the first star to have a discernable proper motion discovered. It moves approximately one degree every 2700 years and, in 1844, a study of its wobbling motion through the sky allowed Friedrich Bessel to deduce the existence of a faint companion around the star. This companion, Sirius B, was discovered visually in 1862 by the lensmaker Alvan Clark and identified as a white dwarf by a spectrum obtained in 1915 with the 60″ telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory.

Our logo is the symbol for a total solar eclipse as depicted in the Dresden Codex, a collection of Mayan observations and calculations of astronomical phenomena. The symbol is thought to date from circa 600 a.d. and consists of the four-parted k’in, or “day”, sign and a background representing the sun passing through the moon’s shadow at the time of an eclipse.

Since life is circular in nature let us close with this: We chose the name Sirius Travel largely because of it’s double entendre and the fact that it made us chuckle. A little research has led us to recall (because of course we knew at one time) that Sirius B was discovered by Alvan Clark. It so happens that Alvan is the great grand uncle of our tour leader Victoria Alten Sahami. It also happens that Victoria worked at Mt. Wilson Observatory and leads the tours that take people to observe through the 60″ which is the very telescope that was used to identify Sirius B as a white dwarf. Siriusly.