Happy New Year, and a waxing crescent moon. There’s a comet near the moon, too, in the southwest sky. It’s called Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková—or 45P for short. It’s not easy to see without binoculars or a telescope, but it is there. You can read more about it here.
The moon has its own calendar, its changing phases. Many cultures have measured time by the lunar calendar, as well as solstices and equinoxes.
The Chinese New Year, following the lunar calendar, will be celebrated on January 28th 2017. It will be the Year of the Rooster.
The Jewish calendar marks the new year at Rosh Hashanah, which occurs in September or October. The current year began at sunset on October 2 of 2016. You can read more here.
These dates may be listed on the calendar you use today. Maybe you even received one as a gift, with lovely artwork or photos of cats, puppies, or the Cubs to hang on a wall, or a kitchen door. At least, I think people still have wall calendars along with daily calendars on their phones.
Notice the layout of the calendar pictured above. What a marvel of clarity and design, and it could fit in your pocket! The entire year is laid out at a glance, an overview, a look at the future.
The calendar we use today is called the Gregorian calendar, It is named after Pope Gregory XIII, who introduced it in October 1582. You can read more about the history, here.
The Gregorian calendar is the most widely used calendar in the world today. It replaced the Julian calendar, named after Julius Ceasar, and the months still retain the Roman names.
January is named after the Roman god Janus, god of doorways and beginnings. Janus is depicted as having two faces—one face looked to the past, one face looked to the future.
So we too begin a new year in January.
Two weeks past the winter solstice, we notice the increasing light. We look back at the year just past, and ahead to the days to come.