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The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes

 
anastasis888
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06/21/2019 10:33 PM
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The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
We seem to keep the Solstices and Equinoxes in a slightly different way from the ancients today. In the old days, the first of Summer and Winter did not begin when Sol entered stationary arc, but when it left, either declining toward the south, or inclining toward the north.

That's why Midwinter always fell on December 25th, and Midsummer on June 24th. Also, the first of vernum or autumn was not on the day of equinox, but when Sol began leaving equinox.

We have the written account of these calculations from Antolius of Alexandria (c. 200-283). So, just a bit for our ancient astronomy buffs in the house. Happy summer. :-)

Antolius of Alexandria XVI
Furthermore, as to the proposal subjoined to your epistle, that I should attempt to introduce into this little book some notice of the ascent and descent of the sun, which is made out in the distribution of days and nights. The matter proceeds thus: In fifteen days and half an hour, the sun ascending by so many minutes, that is, by four in one day, from the eighth day before the Kalends of January, i.e., 25th December, to the eighth before the Kalends of April, i.e., 25th March, an hour is taken up; at which date there are twelve hours and a twelfth. On this day, towards evening, if it happen also to be the moon's fourteenth, the lamb was sacrificed among the Jewes. But if the number went beyond that, so that it was the moon's fifteenth or sixteenth on the evening of the same day, on the fourteenth day of the second moon, in the same month, the pas. was celebrated; and the people ate non-leavened bread for seven days, up to the twenty-first day at evening. Hence, if it happens in like manner to us, that the seventh day before the Kal. of April, 26th March, proves to be both the Lord's day and the moon's fourteenth, Easter is to be celebrated on the fourteenth. But if it proves to be the moon's fifteenth or sixteenth, or any day up to the twentieth, then our regard for the Lord's resurrection, which took place on the Lord's day, will lead us to celebrate it on the same principle; yet this should be done so as that the beginning of Easter may not pass beyond the close of their festival, that is to say, the moon's twentieth. And therefore we have said that those parties have committed no trivial offence who have ventured either on anticipating or on going beyond this number, which is given us in the divine Scriptures themselves. And from the eighth day before the Kalends of April, 25th March, to the eighth before the Kalends of July, 24th June, in fifteen days an hour is taken up: the sun ascending every day by two minutes and a half, and the sixth part of a minute. And from the eighth day before the Kalends of July, 24th June, to the eighth before the Kalends of October, 24th September, in like manner, in fifteen days and four hours, an hour is taken up: the sun descending every day by the same number of minutes. And the space remaining on to the eighth day before the Kalends of January, 25th December, is determined in a similar number of hours and minutes. So that thus on the eighth day before the Kalends of January, for the hour there is the hour and half. For up to that day and night are distributed. And the twelve hours which were established at the vernal equinox in the beginning by the Lord's dispensation, being distributed over the night on the eighth before the Kalends of July, the sun ascending through those eighteen several degrees which we have noted, shall be found conjoined with the longer space in the twelfth. And, again, the twelve hours which should be fulfilled at the autumnal equinox in the sun's descent, should be found disjoined on the sixth before the Kalends of January as six hours divided into twelve, the night holding eighteen divided into twelve. And on the eighth before the Kalends of July, in like manner, it held six divided into twelve.



Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/21/2019 11:16 PM
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anastasis888  (OP)

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06/21/2019 10:43 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
So, you will ask, how is it, if our Zodiac is divided into 12 signs comprised of 30 degrees, are there 365 and 1/4 days in a year and not 360? Well, you must remember that the sun lingers more than in one degree for more than one day in some of these signs. This happens at the Solstices and Equinoxes. From a very early time even before the reforms of Julius Caesar to the Egyptian calendar, the astronomers knew it was actually about 364 or 365 days that the Sun was taking for make one revolution. But it was finally under Julius Caesar that the calendar reforms were made into a 365 1/4 days, which was a revolution in regulating agriculture and made the Roman Empire explode with wealth.

Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/21/2019 10:47 PM
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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Anonymous Coward
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06/21/2019 10:49 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
This is all very interesting. Thank you for posting.
anastasis888  (OP)

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06/21/2019 10:52 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
This is all very interesting. Thank you for posting.
 Quoting: 12th House


I thought one or two might find a use for old Antolius. He really is one of our earliest sources for this material. The entire book is a joy to read. A treasure trove of information. :-)
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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anastasis888  (OP)

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06/21/2019 11:05 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
I should also mention that Antolius is calculating his daylight hours into their respective 12th parts like the old Babylonian relative method of keeping hours divided approximately 15 degrees separate on the sundial.

So, these are not 'modern' fixed hours, but rather the means to calculate Solstice and Equinox by the sundial. I suppose we should just call it ancient near-eastern and Mediterranean time keeping method, since everyone used it. The Babylonians didn't invent it.

[link to www.babylonianhours.com]
The first number is the hour (simanu in Akkadian) of the day or night, the second unit is measured in uš, the third in gar.

The length of a simanu (seasonal hour) is determined by dividing the length of local daylight by 12, or in the case of a night hour, dividing nightime by 12. For your current location a seasonal daylight hour is equal to 73.9 minutes and a seasonal nighttime hour is equal to 46.1 minutes.
The length of an uš is set at approximately four minutes, or one degree of movement of the sun. For your current location there are 18 uš in a seasonal daylight hour. Coincidentally our 360° circle is based on the definition of an uš as one degree.
The length of a gar is set at approximately four seconds (1/60th of an uš)


Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/21/2019 11:10 PM
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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anastasis888  (OP)

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06/21/2019 11:25 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
Grape Harvest always begins 45 degrees (that is to say days) after the sun reaches zenith. When Sol comes out of solstice at Midsummer's Day, this is the traditional feast of Saint John the Baptist, who was born 6 months before Christ. And it's probably very close to Midsummer's Day that Christ was baptized in the Jordan River by John (if not literally on Midsummer's Day). It was a bit after the beginning of Wheat Harvest/Pentecost, so it's sometime very close to Solstice. After Jesus is baptized, he is tested for the 40 days of Fire until the beginning of Grape Harvest.

This year, Vine Harvest begins August 5th (Tu B'Av).

Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/21/2019 11:28 PM
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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anastasis888  (OP)

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06/21/2019 11:53 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
Actually, if you want to get nerdily technical about it, Spring would have begun on the evening of March 24th, Summer on the evening of June 23rd, Autumn on the evening of September 23rd, and Winter on the evening of December 24th by our modern Gregorian/Julian reckoning, because all the near east and Mediterranean began their reckoning of days from evening, not midnight. Antolius is counting from Roman days in the Julian Calendar, which were reckoned from midnight. That was one of the great changes of the Julian calendar.

Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/21/2019 11:58 PM
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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anastasis888  (OP)

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06/22/2019 12:11 AM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
In the 1st century, Sol didn't cross from Gemini to Cancer until June 24th. You can calculate this on Stellarium if you doubt it.

Also, Sol isn't actually in Cancer at Midsummer anymore. Check it yourself. We're actually just coming out of Taurus and entering Gemini tomorrow.

Autumnal equinox isn't Libra anymore either. We're just entering Virgo at Autumnal Equinox. And Vernal Equinox is squarely in the middle of Pisces.

So, whatever you thought your sun sign was, it's one back from that one. All the nativity progression charts you've ever done are all totally wrong.

Sorry. Anyway, happy summer. :-)

Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/22/2019 12:13 AM
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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Ricky MModerator
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06/22/2019 12:16 AM

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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
cheers
Anonymous Coward
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06/22/2019 01:05 AM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
You can calculate this on Stellarium if you doubt it.
 Quoting: anastasis888

I often use Stellarium to look at the movements of the planets and the constellations. This is how I discovered I was actually born in Ophiuchus, not Sagittarius.

I will enjoy looking for all the movements you have mentioned. Thanks for listing them.
anastasis888  (OP)

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06/22/2019 02:57 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
The ultimate test of seeing how good you are with the sundial is to pick any random day of the year to walk out in a meadow armed only with a stick.

With that one stick, you have to follow the course of the sun's shadow until you can establish true east and west. Then, knowing east and west, you have to cast a dial circle in the dirt and divide the 12 hours of daylight.

Then at sunset, you have to observe what sign the sun set in, and then observe what the moon phase is.

If you know what mansion the sun is in and know true east and west, and you know how many relative minutes (us) the sun inclines or declines per day, in a few days you should be able to establish what day of the year it is with only a stick and the information from Antolius.

When you can do that, then you pass the course of ancient astronomy. All you can take in the field is your brain and one stick.

Last Edited by anastasis888 on 06/22/2019 02:59 PM
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

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Anonymous Coward
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06/22/2019 03:18 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
I don't get it

Eight days before January is not December 25th

And eight days before April is not March 25th

What am I missing ?
anastasis888  (OP)

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06/22/2019 03:26 PM
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Re: The Old Way of Calculating the Solstices and Equinoxes
I don't get it

Eight days before January is not December 25th

And eight days before April is not March 25th

What am I missing ?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 77745124


A poor translation. A better rendering might be "8 days back from". "Before" doesn't quite carry Antolius' sense.
Glory be to God in the high heauens, and peace in earth, and towards men good will. - Luke 2:14 (Geneva Bible, 1560)

Can't make it to church? Out on the road? Join us for church live on Ustream. [link to www.ustream.tv (secure)]





GLP