Happy New Year 2003 !
This will be the last LexiLine Newsletter in 2002 so that the year
2003 will intentionally start with LexiLine Newsletter 101 and thus
we will have an easy way to follow the number of Newsletters in the
In terms of the history of astronomy, most of you probably know that
the fixing of the New Year at January 1 rather than at the Winter
Solstice has a long history going back at least to the Romans, who
used this date, though the reason is not explicitly recorded.
Very long ago, humans calculated by the Moon, giving a year of 354
days or 12 months x 29.5 days.
The first civil solar calendars were only 360 days or 12 months of
30 days, leaving 5 days left over from the true solar year of 365
The Greeks knew these intermediary days "between the years" as
epagomena, and this "short week" was called "El Nassey" by the Arabs
(and also Nissanu or Nisan by the Babylonians and Hebrews), a term
which I see related to the Arabic Al Nasak.
Al Nisak (> El Nassey) applied both to the stars delta, epsilon and
zeta in ORION - and this is Orion's Belt - as well as stars opposite
in the sky in Hercules (beta and gamma), Ophiuchus (delta and
epsilon) and Serpens, a line known by the Arabs as Raudah (= Latvian
Rauta - the line drawn or plumbed).
These opposing stars marked the Equinoxes in 3117 BC so that the
epagomenal days will already have been used at that time, as we know
from Pharaonic Egypt and the Pyramid texts, where epagomenal days
The later Pharaoh Khasekhemwy was then the calendric king who - as I
have discovered and as previously already reported - was the first
human to intercalate the calendar for the tropical year of stars
(365.2422 days vs. 365 days of the solar year).
Please note that the mean tropical year Newcomb style is 365.2422
days but that the vernal equinox year of actual days passed in a
human calendar is 365.2424 days (365 days, 5 hours, 49 minutes or
365 and 8/33 days).
Much later, the epagomenal days in Egypt were allegedly tied in with
innundation of the Nile.
However, the current position at the Winter Solstice is surely the
original one, with the year starting after the Winter Solstice and
the begin of the return of the Sun. So that we have a break between
the Winter Solstice and the New Year on January 1 because of
epagomenal considerations of the ancients I am sure.
I wish you all a Happy New Year's Celebration and the Best of Luck
and Happiness in the New Year.
Remember, if you owned the WHOLE world, just by yourself, and there
were no other humans on this planet, you would be the world's
richest man or woman, but you would still have nothing. All that we
have of value depends on other human beings. Perhaps this is a good
New Year's Resolution for the coming 365 days in this often too
Value your fellow human being.
After all, when we study the history of ancient civilizations, we
are studying - hopefully - the good things that our fellow men did
do long ago, all over our planet.