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Lunar Months Versus Calendar Months

April 08, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 124

As a species, humans are creative. Various ways of keeping track of time, so that people knew when certain events were likely to happen have been around for a long time. Many still use the moon cycles to plant vegetables, convinced that this gives the best results.

Structures, such as Stonehenge, in England, mark the summer solstice, and in the Orkneys there is an ancient site where the midwinter sun hits the back of the stone chamber. This suggests that humans have needed, or wanted, to have some idea of where they were in the year. In the modern world where most live remotely from the production of food there is little need to know such dates. Yet everyone wants to celebrate their birthday each year as well as other important dates. It would seem that as a species humans need to be able to pinpoint where they are.

The lunar cycles are a clumsy twenty nine point fifty three days. Not the easiest number to divide evenly.

The ancient Egyptians tried twelve equal sized months. In fact they had three calendars. In the first, the day the crescent of the moon was no longer visible at dawn in the east was day 1 of that month. The next was a calender used for administrative purposes. The third was based on lunar cycles covering twenty five years. This complexity suggests there had been keen observation of the behavior of the sun and moon with a recognition that the moon has more manageable routines to mark time.

The Julian calender was close to matching the awkwardness of the numbers involved but gradually grew out of syn with the real seasons. The monks of the Christian church had the leisure to do the science but were discourages from bothering about something secular.

The problem is there are 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds in a year. Pope Gregory, in 1582, offered a solution with the Gregorian calender which most follow now. It created some opposition because the populace thought it was an attempt to misinform them about the real holy days when religious obligations were needed. As a result it wasn't until the eighteenth century that this calender was adopted.

The Chinese calender was produced centuries ago. It was based on exact astronomical observation. The longitude of the sun and the phases of the moon were used. As a result it seems to move.

Measuring time is obviously tricky. The Gregorian calender works for most of the world for ordinary purposes, but with adjustments which allow leap years.

Source: EzineArticles
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