Hello! I’m Karl Hricko for United Astronomy Clubs of NJ and the National Space Society, bringing you the January Astronomy Update for the WNTI listening area.
It’s a new year! But our calendar system hasn’t always been this way. A calendar is an artificial system that we try to match up with the actual motion of the Earth around the Sun. The problem is that there isn’t an even number of days in a year.
One of the first attempts to correct for this mismatch was made by Julius Caesar. He replaced the Roman Calendar of 10 months with a calendar of 12 months.
Then he added a day to February every 4th year -making it a leap year.
This still wasn’t a good match because by the 16th Century, the calendar was behind by 10 days. So in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII decreed October 5 to be October 15, and every 4th year to be a leap year - except on a century year that is not evenly divided by 400. This is now our present calendar.
For the heavens, it doesn’t make a difference how we set up our Calendar system. At dusk, Venus appears in Capricornus, with Mars to its upper left in Aquarius, looking to the southwest. Mercury and Saturn are too close to the horizon to be easily seen. At dawn, Jupiter is seen to the south next to the bright star Spica in Virgo.
So, let’s begin our New Year with our Gregorian Calendar, while the stars and planets move through the heavens using their own calendar.
Until our next Astronomy Update -
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