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Hale_Bopp
2002-Jan-01, 05:23 PM
From the Ann Arbor News on a story about the New Year...

"It's the last day of the old year - at least under the calendars we've been using since the days of the Roman Empire.

That's not always true with calendars used by other civilizations, some of which mark the new year at the vernal equinox, when the sun's orbit changes, bringing spring to the northern hemisphere."

That is just a sample of the terrible astronomy and downright nonsense in this article. Want to see more?

http://aa.mlive.com/news/index.ssf?/news/stories/20011231acalendar31.frm

Rob

David Hall
2002-Jan-01, 06:07 PM
Hmm, did the Romans really not count the winter season at all at one time? I find that very hard to believe. Everything I've heard about the Romans were that they were very bureaucratic at heart.

And check out the last quote: "And once we reach out into space, we'll find planets that take months or years to orbit the sun and stars that are galaxies on their own, he said." Heehee. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

It's interesting to me that the article says the Egyptians had a 12 month/30 day system with 5 extra days at the end. It's not so important really, but it sounds a little like something I was thinking about.

Recently I've thought that the modern calendar is quite a mess, and I've been thinking about what a more logical calendar would be like. The best one I could come up with was to start each year on the day of one of the solstices or exquinoxes (I prefer the Summer solstice myself). Then there would be 13 months with a uniform 28 days each. This is nice because there would be an even 4 weeks per month, and all the weekdays would fall on the same day each month. This equals 364 days. After that, all time remaining until the next year begins, usually one day but there would be a 2nd leap day about every 4 years, would fall outside of the regular calendar and be considered as having no weekday or month. They would be open days and could be days of holiday or somesuch. Something like what we consider leap day now, only every year.

My calendar would thus need very little maintenance. Even long-term variations would be accounted for in the variable year-end time, And the New Year always starts on a verifiable astronomical event. We'd have to come up with another month name, and a name for the free days, but that's trivial. The only thing we'd really have to worry about would be the triskaidekaphobics. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_razz.gif

It's not very original I know. It's a lot like the Shire Reckoning, for one thing. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif I'm sure there are other ideas out there, some of them better than mine I'll bet. But I like it. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

David Hall
2002-Jan-01, 06:23 PM
Hmm, this site seems to corraborate the Roman dating practice. I guess it's true then. (of course, both sites could be wrong...)

http://www.ernie.cummings.net/calendar.htm#SIX

Oh, and on further thought, the Summer solstice isn't such a good choice for the start of my new year, as it completely ignores the fact that it's winter in the southern hemisphere. Well, let's change it to the Vernal equinox then. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

Donnie B.
2002-Jan-02, 07:58 PM
You... you... northernhemispherecentrist, you!

The Curtmudgeon
2002-Jan-02, 09:12 PM
The trick, of course, would be to get anybody to agree to a calendar change in this day and age. Julius Caesar did it with the Julian calendar, but then he had the position to tell people "Do it or else!" When Gregory tried the same thing with his version, only the Catholic world paid any attention, and the non-Catholic world took literally centuries to comply (Russia only adopted it after the 1917 Revolution [which is why the October Revolution is celebrated in November], and Turkey was even later than that IIRC).

It's great to have a more workable calendar than our existing one, but it's not of very much use if you're the only one using it. Writers do it all the time for their invented worlds (as you mentioned, the Shire Reckoning is very good for that), but then they're God (or at least Julius Caesar) for that particular world. I've adopted the Shire Reckoning when I was game-mastering FRP games, but then I was God/JC for that game world.

Trying to get real humans en masse to switch from something illogical-but-well-known to something logical-but-new is a hopeless task.

And just think of all the software that would have to be re-written. It would make Y2K look like a fizzle (wait, it was a fizzle /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_lol.gif ).

The (I got paid for sitting on my duff the weekend of 31Dec99-01Jan00) Curtmudgeon

David Hall
2002-Jan-02, 09:42 PM
I agree completely. Another example is the metric system. Getting that last bastion of the old ways to switch over completely is either going to take decades, or a direct commandment from a higher power. Since moving to a metric country, I've been amazed at the ease of use of it compared to the old English system, although it has taken a while to truly get used to it (and I may never fully get there).

Still, I can dream, can't I?

(Maybe someday I can write an SF book or get back into gaming and introduce it there.)

The Curtmudgeon
2002-Jan-02, 10:31 PM
On 2002-01-02 16:42, David Hall wrote:
I agree completely. Another example is the metric system...

The amazing thing about the metric system--which is entirely more logical than any previous measuring system known to man--was that it was invented, not just by the French, but by the Revolutionary French. I mean, surely it didn't make that much difference in how many aristos they could off in a given day, so why would they have bothered? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

They were also, AFAIK, the last European group to try a post-Gregorian calendar reform (circling back on the subject while it's not looking). Although, I would guess that their calendar really was Gregorian in form, just different names and starting days for the various months. Anybody seen a link to a French Revolution calendar on-line?

The (pardon me while I Google) Curtmudgeon

AHA! Found one... http://windhorst.org/calendar

While it doesn't really lay out the calendar visually, if you drop down to the discussion (http://windhorst.org/calendar/#Brinton) section, it describes the layout. Funnily enough, it's the old 12x30 Egyptian calendar with 5 (6) days left over at the end. They divided the months into 3x10 weeks, which I think was also true of the Egyptians.

In other words, hardly Revolutionary, and totally non-Gregorian.

The (now I'm up-to-date) Curtmudgeon

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Curtmudgeon on 2002-01-02 17:39 ]</font>

The Curtmudgeon
2002-Jan-02, 10:53 PM
On 2002-01-01 13:07, David Hall wrote:
....The best one I could come up with was to start each year on the day of one of the solstices or exquinoxes (I prefer the Summer solstice myself). Then there would be 13 months with a uniform 28 days each....

Hey, David! Check out http://webexhibits.org/calendars/calendar-future.html. They've got your 13x28 calendar already listed, as the International Fixed Calendar. Sorry, you're behind the fair on this one.

They've got interesting discussions about all kinds of calendars, ancient, Mayan, Martian (!), etc. Anyone interested in this topic should probably check it out.

The ('days' or 'daze'--I'm losing track) Curtmudgeon

EckJerome
2002-Jan-03, 10:01 PM
On 2002-01-01 12:23, Hale_Bopp wrote:
From the Ann Arbor News on a story about the New Year...

"It's the last day of the old year - at least under the calendars we've been using since the days of the Roman Empire.

That's not always true with calendars used by other civilizations, some of which mark the new year at the vernal equinox, when the sun's orbit changes, bringing spring to the northern hemisphere."

That is just a sample of the terrible astronomy and downright nonsense in this article.

Rob




Terrible astronomy and downright nonsense?

In general, it appears to be a rather well researched article that has been bookended by two rather glaring examples of bad astonomy.

No, the sun's orbit (?) doesn't change and who knows where that second-to-last paragraph came from. Beyond that, I noted no glaring errors in the entire article. Not that I'm any sort of an expert on calendar systems, but could you please point out the rest of the downright nonsense?

Eric

Hale_Bopp
2002-Jan-04, 12:25 AM
I am not a history expert, but I know they got at least some of it right. However, here are some of the other things I found odd to say the least...

"In the past, days and weeks were dropped in order to bring the calendar in line with the astronomical universe. Even now, we're fiddling around with leap seconds."

Technical point, but leap seconds are used to make up for the Earth's rotation slowing down, not to keep us in sync with the seasons.

"It's the sun that determines the seasons, but the sun doesn't move very much in the sky," he said. So some civilizations turned to the moon, which seems to change every night, more easily marking the passage of time."

I seem to notice lots of movement of the Sun from season to season. It's just hard to measure. Lots of civilizations did use the Sun, however. Witness the stone circles in England, of which Stonehenge is the most famous. Several of the stones correspond to the rising and setting of the Sun on certain dates.

"The Islamic calendar is lunar and makes no attempt to keep the seasons. That's why the holiday of Ramadan will move through the calendar, sometimes ending up in the summer."

This shouldn't be surprising...Ramadan can fall during ANY month of the year! If you wait long enough, it will fall during every month...summer, fall, winter, spring (Howdy Doody everyone!)

"Starting with the first new moon after the vernal equinox, the lunar calendar divided up the year into 12 months of either 29 or 30 days each. The first four months were named after gods and the rest were numbered from five to 10, which still exists as December."

Omission here...but Sept is 7 and Oct is 8, so December is not the only survivor. I am not sure...is November based on nine? I thought it was non.

"It's not surprising this led to the "Year of Confusion" in 44 B.C., when the year was only 440 days in order to move everything back to where it was supposed to be."

That's just silly...a year is ONLY 440 days? Only seems to imply it was shorter.

"Days are divided into 24 hours, with 60 minutes in an hour and 60 seconds in a minute. That's courtesy of the Babylonians, who used multiples of 12 and 60 as the base for counting, the way we use a base of 10."

Love the Babylonians...seriously. Would be nice to use base 12 since it is divisible by 3 and 4...would actually make math easier for many applications.

And I didn't mentiion the two big astronomy mistakes that everyone seems to have awknowledged.

At best, they had some bad writing in there.

Rob

James
2002-Jan-04, 06:17 AM
"Starting with the first new moon after the vernal equinox, the lunar calendar divided up the year into 12 months of either 29 or 30 days each. The first four months were named after gods and the rest were numbered from five to 10, which still exists as December."

Omission here...but Sept is 7 and Oct is 8, so December is not the only survivor. I am not sure...is November based on nine? I thought it was non.

Yep. it is. I don't know what July and August used to be called, but, off the top of my head, it was, in the Julian calendar: March(God of war), April(Aphrodite?), May(?), June(?), July(after Julius Ceasar), August(after a jealous Augustus Ceasar), September(7th month), October(8th month), November(9th month), and December(10th month).

What the heck January & February came from, I don't know. Ask the dude who made it.

StarMan
2002-Jan-04, 08:01 AM
What the heck January & February came from, I don't know. Ask the dude who made it.


January comes from the two-faced god Janus (who also is the origin of the word janitor)

I'm not sure of February, bu I think it had some thing to do with a festival in that month.

The roman calendar was:
March
April
May
June
Quintillis (5th)
Sextillis (6th)
September (7th)
October (8th)
November (9th)
December (10th)
January
February + leap days

As Janus was the god of the past and the future, January later became the first month.
Quintillis was renamed after Julius Caesar, Sextillis after Augustus.
The senate wanted to honor Tiberius by renaming September after him but he refused.



"Nemo enim fere saltat sobrius, nisi forte insanit" -- M T Cicero

Jim
2002-Jan-04, 12:20 PM
Amazing what you can get from Google!

January: Janus, Roman god of doors, beginnings, sunset and sunrise, had one face looking forward and one backward,

February: On February 15 the Romans celebrated the festival of forgiveness for sins; (februare, Latin to purify),

March: Mars, the Roman god of war,

April: Roman month Aprilis, perhaps derived from aperire, (Latin to open, as in opening buds and blossoms) or perhaps from Aphrodite, original Greek name of Venus,

May: Maia, Roman goddess, mother of Mercury by Jupiter and daughter of Atlas,

June: Juno, chief Roman goddess,

July: Renamed for Julius Caesar in 44 BC, who was born this month; Quintilis, Latin for fifth month, was the former name (the Roman year began in March rather than January),

August: Formerly Sextilis (sixth month in the Roman calendar); re-named in 8 BC for Augustus Caesar,

September: September, (septem, Latin for 7) the seventh month in the Julian or Roman calendar, established in the reign of Julius Caesar,

October: Eighth month (octo, Latin for eight) in the Julian (Roman) calendar. The Gregorian calendar instituted by Pope Gregory XIII established January as the first month of the year,

November: Ninth Roman month (novem, Latin for 9). Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1582, skipping 10 days that October, correcting for too many leap years,

December: Roman year's tenth month (decem, Latin for 10).

For more, try http://www.crowl.org/Lawrence/time/months.html.

Edit: Darn board turned the 8 followed by ) into /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_cool.gif.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Jim on 2002-01-04 07:22 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Jim on 2002-01-04 07:23 ]</font>

ToSeek
2002-Jan-04, 02:52 PM
Also, when July and August were renamed for the emperors, days were stolen from February to make the months have an odd number of days. (This was considered propitious by the Romans.) This explains the strange ordering of days in a month throughout the year.

EckJerome
2002-Jan-04, 08:58 PM
On 2002-01-03 19:25, Hale_Bopp wrote:
I am not a history expert, but I know they got at least some of it right. However, here are some of the other things I found odd to say the least...

"In the past, days and weeks were dropped in order to bring the calendar in line with the astronomical universe. Even now, we're fiddling around with leap seconds."

Technical point, but leap seconds are used to make up for the Earth's rotation slowing down, not to keep us in sync with the seasons.


The article did not say it was to keep us in sync with the seasons. Leap days, seconds, weeks, etc. were/are needed for a variety of reasons, all of which amount to "bringing the calendar in line with the astronomical universe."



"It's the sun that determines the seasons, but the sun doesn't move very much in the sky," he said. So some civilizations turned to the moon, which seems to change every night, more easily marking the passage of time."

I seem to notice lots of movement of the Sun from season to season. It's just hard to measure. Lots of civilizations did use the Sun, however. Witness the stone circles in England, of which Stonehenge is the most famous. Several of the stones correspond to the rising and setting of the Sun on certain dates.


While it could have been worded better, I found it quite obvious that the meaning was day-to-day motion of the sun along the ecliptic. And the author is absolutely correct, the sun moves very little day to day...especially compared to the moon.

Do notice the context including "the moon, which seems to change every night." Do you routinely notice the sun's position change every day? I certainly don't.



"The Islamic calendar is lunar and makes no attempt to keep the seasons. That's why the holiday of Ramadan will move through the calendar, sometimes ending up in the summer."

This shouldn't be surprising...Ramadan can fall during ANY month of the year! If you wait long enough, it will fall during every month...summer, fall, winter, spring (Howdy Doody everyone!)


Your only beef here seems to be your opinion that the author was stating the obvious. I thought it was a rather apropo followup to illustrate the effect of a lunar calendar.



"Starting with the first new moon after the vernal equinox, the lunar calendar divided up the year into 12 months of either 29 or 30 days each. The first four months were named after gods and the rest were numbered from five to 10, which still exists as December."

Omission here...but Sept is 7 and Oct is 8, so December is not the only survivor. I am not sure...is November based on nine? I thought it was non.


The author did not say that December was the only survivor. That sentence could use some cleaning up, but I don't think the ommission of the other months is a big issue.



"It's not surprising this led to the "Year of Confusion" in 44 B.C., when the year was only 440 days in order to move everything back to where it was supposed to be."

That's just silly...a year is ONLY 440 days? Only seems to imply it was shorter.


Okay...I did see that one. Glaring bad astronomy point #3.

[quote]
At best, they had some bad writing in there.
[quote]

A little bit anyway. I will say that this one is an odd duck. Three major gaffs in an otherwise well-researched and, yes, mostly well-written article about a rather complicated subject.

I have to wonder if the gaffs came in during editing. Newspapers generally write to a fifth-grade reading level. This leads to all kinds of errors as editors attempt to dumb-down complex ideas (often without consulting the author).

Eric

bup
2002-Jan-04, 09:09 PM
On 2002-01-04 15:58, EckJerome wrote:


"The Islamic calendar is lunar and makes no attempt to keep the seasons. That's why the holiday of Ramadan will move through the calendar, sometimes ending up in the summer."

This shouldn't be surprising...Ramadan can fall during ANY month of the year! If you wait long enough, it will fall during every month...summer, fall, winter, spring (Howdy Doody everyone!)


Your only beef here seems to be your opinion that the author was stating the obvious. I thought it was a rather apropo followup to illustrate the effect of a lunar calendar.



Well, I've got another beef with that, although it's not bad astronomy, just poor writing. To me, the odd phrase 'sometimes ending up in the summer' suggests that Ramadan in the summer is a counter-intuitive event.

Ramadan was in the summer when Muhammad was alive - it was the month each year when it was so hot, he and his family just went to meditate in caves. It became the holy month because it was in the summer - if some other month had been the hottest, it would now be the Islamic holy month.

ToSeek
2002-Jan-04, 09:13 PM
On 2002-01-04 16:09, bup wrote:

Well, I've got another beef with that, although it's not bad astronomy, just poor writing. To me, the odd phrase 'sometimes ending up in the summer' suggests that Ramadan in the summer is a counter-intuitive event.

Ramadan was in the summer when Muhammad was alive - it was the month each year when it was so hot, he and his family just went to meditate in caves. It became the holy month because it was in the summer - if some other month had been the hottest, it would now be the Islamic holy month.


The irony is that Ramadan is hardest to observe in the summer because it requires fasting during the daylight hours - a lot easier in the winter than in the summer! (Are there any Muslims at the South Pole? What do they do if the Sun isn't setting?)

EckJerome
2002-Jan-04, 09:54 PM
On 2002-01-04 16:09, bup wrote:


On 2002-01-04 15:58, EckJerome wrote:


"The Islamic calendar is lunar and makes no attempt to keep the seasons. That's why the holiday of Ramadan will move through the calendar, sometimes ending up in the summer."

This shouldn't be surprising...Ramadan can fall during ANY month of the year! If you wait long enough, it will fall during every month...summer, fall, winter, spring (Howdy Doody everyone!)


Your only beef here seems to be your opinion that the author was stating the obvious. I thought it was a rather apropo followup to illustrate the effect of a lunar calendar.



Well, I've got another beef with that, although it's not bad astronomy, just poor writing. To me, the odd phrase 'sometimes ending up in the summer' suggests that Ramadan in the summer is a counter-intuitive event.


Gosh...here I thought she was offering up the simple comparison that Ramadan is, this year, in the winter. Those veiled counter-intuitive suggestions can really sneak by you! *sarcasm*



Ramadan was in the summer when Muhammad was alive -


Mohommed must not have been alive very long. Back of the brain calculation suggests that Ramadan should cycle through our calendar 3 or 4 times in an average lifespan today...and at least once or twice back in his day.

Or have I just found some Bad Astronomy in the Koran?

In my opinion, folks here are wanting to tear apart this article because of its notible gaffs...and not wanting to acknowledge that most of the rest of it *is* well written.

I say point out the good with the bad...and that is exactly what I am doing. Babies and bathwater come to mind...we shouldn't give people the impression that the article is total nonsense, because it isn't. Nor do I think it is fair to the author to characterize it as such.

Eric

EckJerome
2002-Jan-04, 10:02 PM
On 2002-01-04 16:13, ToSeek wrote:

(Are there any Muslims at the South Pole? What do they do if the Sun isn't setting?)


Maybe they are allowed to fast on Mecca Standard Time? Otherwise, a fat and healthy person could probably go without food for a lunar month. Are they restricted from drinking water? That could be a problem.

Eric

bup
2002-Jan-07, 01:59 PM
On 2002-01-04 16:54, EckJerome wrote:
Mohommed must not have been alive very long. Back of the brain calculation suggests that Ramadan should cycle through our calendar 3 or 4 times in an average lifespan today...and at least once or twice back in his day.

Or have I just found some Bad Astronomy in the Koran?


The Islamic calendar slips 11 days a year -therefore it would take 35 years to cycle through once. I'd love to live through 3 of them, and 4 would be great.

Mohammed lived to be about 60. What I meant was, during the active years he recited messages from Gabriel, Ramadan was in the summer.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: bup on 2002-01-07 08:59 ]</font>

ToSeek
2002-Jan-07, 02:01 PM
On 2002-01-04 17:02, EckJerome wrote:
Maybe they are allowed to fast on Mecca Standard Time? Otherwise, a fat and healthy person could probably go without food for a lunar month. Are they restricted from drinking water? That could be a problem.


No drinking during Ramadan (during the day), either. Actually the rules are fairly liberal for people traveling or with a medical condition (though one is supposed to make up for it later), so that would probably apply in this case.

The Curtmudgeon
2002-Jan-07, 09:40 PM
On 2002-01-04 09:52, ToSeek wrote:
Also, when July and August were renamed for the emperors, days were stolen from February to make the months have an odd number of days. (This was considered propitious by the Romans.) This explains the strange ordering of days in a month throughout the year.


Actually, as I was taught it, it wasn't so much as having an odd number of days as it was having the most number of days. Originally, the Julian calendar had alternating 31/30 days, with February only one day short at 29 (31+30 x 6 = 366, so some month had to be shortened in non-leap years, but leap years were regularly alternating 31/30-day months). (Of course, it might have made more logical sense to steal a day from a long month rather than a short month, but then Julie didn't ask me.)

When Augustus Caesar made his minor update to rename August after himself, he also stole a second day from February so that "his" month wouldn't be shorter than any other month (and specifically, not shorter than Julius' month July). Just egotism, that's all.

The (hey, I want a day, too!) Curtmudgeon

Mnemonia
2002-Jan-08, 02:47 PM
On 2002-01-02 16:12, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
When Gregory tried the same thing with his version, only the Catholic world paid any attention.


Maybe because when he eliminated ten days it moved the solstice back from the last day of the year to Dec. 21st. So ye olde Roman calendar probably started and/or ended on the winter solstice, and that seems more natural.

SeanF
2002-Jan-08, 03:09 PM
On 2002-01-08 09:47, Mnemonia wrote:


On 2002-01-02 16:12, The Curtmudgeon wrote:
When Gregory tried the same thing with his version, only the Catholic world paid any attention.


Maybe because when he eliminated ten days it moved the solstice back from the last day of the year to Dec. 21st. So ye olde Roman calendar probably started and/or ended on the winter solstice, and that seems more natural.


Um, nope. First of all, the Julian calendar was getting further off the seasons, and eliminating the days put it back on track -- that is, Pope Gregory's change put the winter solstice back to where it was originally (okay, not where it was when Julius Ceaser was around - he just wanted to get things back to the way they were when the Church's holy days were set up, which I believe was in the 5th Century?).

Also, if Gregory hadn't made the change, the winter solstice would've been on the 11th that year; by eliminating those ten days, it got moved to the 21st. Thus, the change moved it towards the end of the year, not away.

Only the Catholics listened originally because, for some reason, those Protestants just really didn't want to do anything the Pope said . . . /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif



_________________
SeanF

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SeanF on 2002-01-08 10:10 ]</font>

The Curtmudgeon
2002-Jan-08, 07:03 PM
On 2002-01-08 10:09, SeanF wrote:
Only the Catholics listened originally because, for some reason, those Protestants just really didn't want to do anything the Pope said . . . /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif


Right. Most so-called Protestant countries of the time (e.g. England, Germany) specifically ignored it because it was Papal, not because it wasn't convenient or didn't make sense. It was both convenient and logical, but it was also Papal which was the kiss of death. Let the Pope tell you what day of the month it is, and the next thing you know you're doing the Vatican Rag again with the rest of those fools.... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif


Bow your head with great respect, and genuflect, GENUFLECT, GENUFLECT!

(Apologies to Tom Lehrer)

Personally, I'm pretty sure that Ian Paisley has it on his agenda to revoke the Gregorian calendar reforms in No'rn Ireland just as soon as he gets a majority of seats in the Assembly. Right after he changes the name of Christmas to Christ's-Birthday-Party-Is-Not-a-Bloody-Mass.

The (apologies for bringing Big Ian into it) Curtmudgeon