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Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Ecological Calendar and Solar Events

Every year, I love to follow along the Ecological Calendar. It's a calendar based on the natural structure of the year, focusing on the four seasons as separated by the solstices and equinoxes, and daily following along the phases of the moon, the movements of the stars, the tidal fluctuations, our rotation around the sun and its effect on daylight and climate, and many natural phenomena. It's a nice alternative to the traditoinal Gregorian calendar. Interestingly enough, the Gregorian calendar is actually based on the ancient Egyptian calendar, which was based on solar movements and mathematically calculated to have 365 1/4 days per year.

When just living by the traditional calendar, its easy to get lost in the year as the days of the week and repeat and numerical dates of the months tick by. I have both a "regular" calendar and the Ecological Calendar posted side-by-side on my wall, and the Ecological Calendar provides a nice contrast by giving each day a unique name based on its place in the year. This week, for instance, consists of the days Orion, FrostHoar, Procyon, RazorbackBoar, MackerelSky, ScrubJay, and Gemini.

There are a couple interesting solar events that fall around this week. January 4th was the perihelion - the place in Earth's orbital cycle where we are closest to the sun. The Earth is 3.1 million miles closer to the sun on the perihelion than during the aphelion (the farthest point) which this year falls in July.

On January 10th, the full moon will be the brightest one of the year, because on this cycle it coincides with when the moon is closest to the Earth on its orbital cycle. Unfortunately, I may miss the bright full moon, unless some of these persistent rain clouds move on by then.

Also, January 11th will be the last day when you can see Jupiter in the evening sky. Right around the winter solstice, Jupiter, Venus, and Mercury could all be seen together in the night sky. Here's a photo my dad took in Arizona on December 1st, showing Venus, Jupiter, and the moon together in the night sky:


The K said...

I was pleased to see an astronomical bent to your post. Thanks for even using one of my pictures. Note the annular eclipse Jan 26 -- unfortunately not viewable from North America -- but a cosmic event of note.

Monika said...

The Ecological Calendar is definitely good for keeping up to date on astronomical events. Unfortunately I can't even see the moon lately with all these clouds....