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The astronomical New Year

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Old January 1st 19, 03:32 PM posted to sci.astro.amateur
Gerald Kelleher
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Default The astronomical New Year

The actual story of timekeeping is worth telling as there is one year that rules them all to borrow a phrase from a fictional work.

In our annual trek around the Sun, the stars close to the orbital plane become progressively lost to the glare of the Sun and even disappear from view one twilight only to appear a number of weeks later as a morning appearance -



The brightest star in the celestial arena, in this case Sirius, provided a yearly marker much like a driver in a car coming around a corner sees a building or landmark that tells them they are nearly home, in an astronomical sense, when the Earth has traveled far enough around its orbit, Sirius would appear once more. Its first annual appearance happened after 365 days but one astronomer in antiquity noticed that it wouldn't appear after the fourth 365 day cycle but would skip an appearance by one day -

".. on account of the procession of the rising of Sirius by one day in the course of 4 years,.. therefore it shall be, that the year of 360 days and the 5 days added to their end, so one day shall be from this day after every 4 years added to the 5 epagomenae before the new year" Canopus Decree 238 BC

Sirius is that star in Canis Major which remains after most of the other stars are lost to the Sun's morning glare -



The story goes two ways after this point - the 1461 days for 4 annual circuits is formatted as three years of 365 days and one year of 366 days of the calendar framework or the 1461 days divided by 4 gives the 365 1/4 days per orbital circuit.

The story becomes lost for about 1500 years until clocks start to emerge in Europe and the emergence of a moving Earth in a Sun's centred system. It is then that planetary dynamics and timekeeping diverge but with theorists draining a lot of energy with unchecked exotic timekeeping notions, perhaps this year the productive side of astronomy and timekeeping will win out.

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