Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Epochs and calibrations

The date on most Earthly calendars has four components: a weekday, a month, a day number in the month, and a year number.  For  most of us in Mediterranean/Middle Eastern-derived cultures (which is to say, most of us) this system works pretty well and is fairly intuitive.  The seven-day week cycle is integral to our religions (and thus will need to be brought with us to Mars), and the months keep the day numbers from getting awkwardly large (and so will probably also be used on Mars; I prefer sixteen months of about forty days each, since fewer months with more than forty days makes for excessively large months, and more than sixteen months with fewer than forty days makes for too many months.  That and I like the number sixteen).

So, given that a Martian calendar will have the same weekdays, and will also have months, with numbered days within the months (be it 16x42. 23x29 or 12x56), what remains is the epoch: what year is it on Mars?

The simplest way is to have Mars year zero be the year we first land people on Mars.  Alternatively, Mars year zero could be the year Mariner 4 flew by (1964), which has the advantage of already being known.  I'd also suggest two others right away: we could use the same epoch as the Earth calendar does (in which this Mars year would be A.D.M. 1068), or we could use the Ecclesiastical calendar's epoch, in which this year (7517 A.M.) would be 3996 A.M.M.

I would suggest that for ecclesiastical purposes, we use the ecclesiastical epoch.  Perhaps the Martian New Year should be set to be the same Martian day it was on September 1, 5510 BC (0 AM. — yes, the Byzantines didn't use zero.  But if we do, it will simplify our calculations.  And I'm not convinced the world was created in 5509 BC anyway.)  That makes today the 495th day of 3996.

If the month lengths in a Martian day go 42-42-42-41-42-42-42-41-42-42-42-41-42-42-42-41.6 (the last month containing any leap day), you'd get a nice, regular pattern for each 167-day quarter.  That puts us on the 35th day of the 12th month (3996:12:35).

Now, as for calibration of weekdays: I'm going to propose that we make Sunday, March 25, AD 31 (which would have been Orthodox Kyriopascha, had there been such a thing at the time) also have been a Sunday on Mars.  Using an Excel spreadsheet (available upon request once I rectify a couple idiosyncrasies), I work out that today is Monday.

Earth's Pascha (April 6, Julian) this year falls on a Martian Thursday; I think Martian Pascha would be three days later, 3996:13:35.  Martian Orthodox Lent, therefore, began on Monday, 3996:12:28, seven days ago.  So their Lent is two days behind ours, at the moment.

In summary, on the Byzantino-Martian Calendar, today is Monday, the 35th of Duodecember, 3996, in the second week of Great Lent.

Friday, February 15, 2008


There are plenty of proposals out there for Martian calendars. In general, I don't like many of them, since I prefer my own (16 months of about 41 days each). But that's not the point.

Christianity on Mars will need a liturgical calendar. The one we use on Earth is actually from two planets -- Earth, and the Moon. The terrestrial calendar, based on the orbit of the Earth around the Sun, is where we get our menaion cycle -- the daily feasts and all. The lunar calendar, based on the orbits of the Moon around both the Sun and the Earth, is where the Paschal cycle comes from. This is simple enough. But on Mars, it gets more complicated.

In addition to the Earth and the Moon (both of which, by the way, can be distinguished by the naked eye from the surface of Mars), Martians may want to use the Martian cycle as well.

So, how shall they mix?

My suggestion is this: the Paschalion should be as close as possible to that on Earth, since we're all supposed to have the same Pascha, ever since Nicaea. Likewise, the other major feasts should be as close as possible to Earth; those derived dates should go accordingly. For example, Christmas would fall on the Martian day closest to December 25; Theophany would be twelve Martian days later; Meeting of the Lord (happy feast, by the way) would be 28 Martian days after that, which, due to the longer day on Mars, actually winds up being about a day after it is celebrated on Earth.

Likewise, Pascha would be the first Martian Sunday (the Mars week would drift relative to the Earth week) after the first 'full moon' after the Earth's vernal equinox (or something approximating that -- as Orthodox, I'd use the Julian calendar, which is about 4 days off for the full moon and 13 days off for the equinox.  Oh well.)

An interesting consequence is that the Meeting of the Lord can occur on Mars in the second week of Lent every once in a while. It would then be dealt with something like Annunciation is, I assume.

I should address the problem of the different length of day (and thus week) on Mars. That will be a later post, I suppose.

So the Paschalion, and with it, the Lectionary cycle would be Lunar.  The Menaion, at least when it comes to the major feasts (perhaps, for the Orthodox at least, doxology-rank and higher) would be Terrestrial; my recommendation for the Martian calendar, is to have the minor commemorations, of which there are dozens each day, redone for the Martian year.  So you might get the 28th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of St. John Chrysostom (January 27), and the long list of saints for, say, the 38th of Phobosmonth.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I guess I'll start this thing

So the Lord's Prayer says, in part, "On Earth as it is in Heaven".  This works fine for earthlings, but what happens when someone is praying in Space?  How about on Mars?  Can it be changed to reflect the current location, or is it unchangable?

And how about other prayers, like the Prayer of the Hours: "Thou, who at all times, at every hour, in Heaven and on Earth, art worshipped and glorified, O Christ God. . ."  Is that more changeable?