Length of this time unit: Length of time between the midnight (UTC) closest to the moment the Sun enters 15˚ Scorpio and the midnight (UTC) closest to the next moment the Sun enters 15˚ Scorpio. This will be either 365 or 366 days.
The length of the year should be the same as it is now with almost all calendars, because the length of the year on Earth has been remarkably constant, going almost all the way back to our planet’s beginning.
But why set the beginning of the year astrologically? What the heck does it mean when the sun enters 15˚ Scorpio? Each of these two questions will be answered in the next two subsequent sections.
Why set the beginning of the year astrologically?
If you were to ask the average Westerner how long a year is, they’d say 365 days except for Leap Year when it’s 366 days. Neither figure is accurate. The actual length of the year is in between–what changes is the time of day upon which it falls. The mean tropical year is 365.2422 days.
The Gregorian calendar, despite its almost universal use, is not the most accurate widely used calendar in the world. That honor actually belongs to the Solar Hijri calendar which is the official calendar in Iran and Afghanistan. (White supremacists will cringe at the thought. Good.) Both calendars have leap years with leap days, but the Gregorian leap years are mathematically fixed while the Solar Hijri leap years are astronomically fixed.
The Solar Hijri calendar simply measures the year as being between the midnight closest to the Northward (Spring) Equinox and the midnight closest to the next Northward Equinox. Most of the time it means that leap years are four years apart, but once in a while they are five years apart. You can see from the charts below that the Gregorian calendar’s formula allows the beginning of the tropical year to vary by as much as 2-3 days, while the Solar Hijri calendar limits that variability to just ten hours or so.
So the New Year’s Day in the Earth Epic Calendar does the same things, except that the first day of the New Year is established as the midnight closest to the day and time the sun enters 15˚ Scorpio, which is currently November 7 or 8.
Why set the beginning of the year at 15˚ Scorpio?
Calculating the Earth’s position relative to the sun is a more accurate way to measure a year than counting days because of the elliptical nature of Earth’s orbit.
A little bit of basic astrology structure will be helpful here. Astrologers divide the planetary plane–the relatively flat disc upon which planets Mercury through Neptune rest–into twelve sections. The sections correspond to the Western astrological signs Aries through Pisces. When Western astrology was invented, the Greeks knew that the Earth was round but thought that the Sun and planets orbited the Earth. So most astrologers will still talk about the Sun entering a certain sign (a pie section of the Solar System) even they know it’s the Earth’s position related to the Sun.
The Solar Hijri calendar actually bases its months on the signs of the Zodiac. But this isn’t a Muslim endorsement of using astrology to predict the future. It is simply a way of plotting the planets in the Solar System and modeling the two dimensional planetary plane. This aspect of astrology has evolved through several millennia from the Babylonians to the ancient Greeks to Christian and Muslim astronomers who added their own knowledge to the field. NASA distances itself from astrology. While astrology has debatable divination capabilities, the way that astrologers map the Solar System is well established, ancient, and isn’t likely to go away.
The path around the circle is divided into 360 degrees, with each astrological sign occupying 30 degrees. The Solar Hijri starts its new Year at the midnight closest to the moment where the Sun enters Aries, or more precisely, when the Sun reaches 0˚ Aries.
So the sun at the September Equinox is at 0˚ Libra and at the December Solstice it is at 0˚ Capricorn.
But why 15˚ Scorpio? A look at the diagram below will establish why. Rather than having the December Solstice start the new year, it falls right in the middle of the first quarter of the year. Thus the days surrounding it have, for the most part, the longest nights of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest days of the year in the Southern Hemisphere. This will be explained in further detail in the Quarters section of this website.
Saying what year it is
We know from the Epoch page that the first year of this Epoch began in 9701 BCE (technically, early November 9702 BCE). So now we are in the decade of the 11720s.
Why do I not subdivide the number? Why allow the year to have five digits when the Epic Time Scales are no more than two digits each? This is because I want to give actual users of the calendar a choice in the future as to how to standardize it.
We could divide the number like this: 11.725. Eleven would indicate the number of millennia completed since the beginning of the epoch, with 725 being the number of years completed since the beginning of the millennium. This might result in people referring to the year as just “725” with occasional reference to millennium 11 when need to be more precise or formal. It could be verbalized as “eleven seven twenty-five.”
Or we could divide the number like this: 117.25. One hundred seventeen would indicate the number of centuries completed since the beginning of the epoch. People could refer to “year 25”, or ’25. The advantage of that is that this two digit number could then refer the year in both the Gregorian and Earth Epic Calendars. People got less in the habit of writing just the two-digit year when the world reached the year 2000 CE. But it’s possible that this might change now that we’ve completed two decades of the millennium. It could be verbalized as “one-seventeen twenty-five,” which a common way in the U.S. for expressing address numbers with five digits. Just as people commonly talk about the 500 block or the 7100 (seventy-one hundred) block, people also talk about the 11700 block.
I suspect that users of the calendar will want to refer to the year in its entirety because of the novelty of that. Who knows what will be the most practical for people one hundred years from now? It’s hard to say. So I leave it up to people to decide for themselves.