John Pazmino 
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2012 February 18
    Ever since the attempted deplaneatization of plant Pluto in 2006 
there arose awripple effect among those wanting to straighten glitches 
in modern society. On top of this movement was the ongoing broohaha 
about astrology. Its signs are slipped against the constellations, 
upsetting any meaning they could have in horoscopes. 
    Among the irregularities in society today that comes under 
scrutiny for fixup is the western calendar. It has months whose names 
no longer line up with their position in the year. This has to be 
fixed! Here I summarize the new dialog, without takng sides as such. 
This piece here is a descreription of the debate and not an argument 
for one faction or an other.
The months
    The western calendar is the linear descendent of the Roman 
calendar with the names of the months long ago rendered into English. 
The Romans, after centuries of capricious and erroneous calendars 
scattered thruout the empire, settled on a twelve month system. 
    There were two minds about when to start the year. One began the 
year in January, named for Janus, a god who who looked both back into 
the old year and front into the new one. 
    The other started the year in the spring season, in March, banking 
off of the annual cycle of life in the north temperate latitudes of 
Earth. Both systems were in circulation in the empire. 
    The months alternated between 31 and 30 days in length to help 
align the lunar phase cycle with the solar year. The last month 
February fell short, being that the 365 days in the year do not divide 
up evenly into 30s and 31s. February had the leftover 29 days. Not 28, 
as I explain below. 
    Five months of 30 days, plus six of 31 days, plus February's 29 
made 365 days. There was no leapday and the calendar dates rapidly 
slided against the seasons. Uncoordinated and arbitrary adjustments 
were made, which made correlation of dates across the empire very 
    The names for the first four months, in the start-in-spring 
system, do not embed their location within the year: Martius, Aprilis, 
Maius, Iunius. Starting with month #5, they were named Quintilis, 
Sextilis, September, October, November, December. The final two months 
also had no placement in their names, Januarius and Februarius. 
Julius Caesar
    In the 40s BC emperor Julius Caesar reformed the calendar to clear 
up the discrepancies from rampant reckless adjustments every where in 
the empire. He declared a new round of calendar dates and introduced 
the leapyear scheme. He began the year in March with the vernal 
equinox on March 25th. 
    He knew from his astronomers that the year was not a whisker less 
than 365-1/4 day long. He believed the error from assuming an exact 
365-1/4 day length was too small to worry about. 
    He decreed that our modern year 47BC is a leapyear and that 
leapdays must be added every four years. To congratulate himself he 
renamed Quintilis after himself, Julius. By chance Julius had 31 days. 
    Julius's system broke down after he died under Halley's comet. 
Leapdays were added haphazardly, quickly unraveling a uniform date 
system in the Roman world. 
Augustus Caesar
    Emperor Augustus made a new effort to fix the calendar. He 
asserted 8AD as a leapyear, with leapdays added every four years. Ny 
his time the Roman world was peaceful, more or less, and the people 
were better ready to accept a standard uniform calendar. 
    In Augustus's time there was no year count like ours. The Romans 
would not have honored the Nativity by counting years from that event! 
The current year count came in the mid 500s, well after the Roman 
Empire disintegrated. . 
    Augustus was pleased with his work and took Sextilis for his own 
month Augustus. He saw that it had only 30 day! He grabbed one from 
the end of the year, Febraury 29th, tacked it onto his new month, and 
that's how we got our jumbled 30-31 mix of days. February was cut to 
the normal 28 days, 29 in leapyear. 
    It s by sheer luck that 8AD is an exact multiple of four, making 
it easy to remember when to add the leapday. When a year number is 
evenly divided by four, that year is a leapyear. End of story. 
    Augustus was pleased with his work and took Sextilis for his own 
renamed month Augustus. He saw that it had only 30 day! He grabbed one 
from the end of the year, Febraury 29th, tacked it onto his new month, 
and that's how we got our jumbled 30-31 mix of days. February was cut 
to the normal 28 days, 29 in leapyear. 
Ancient dates
    Very stricta mente we have a stable leapyear scheme only from 8AD 
and forward. Before then we had a jumbled leapyear system back to the 
40s BC. Before then we had only local calendars, often erraticly tied 
to the seasonal cycle. 
    For history and astronomy we exercise the leapday system for all 
time in the past before 8AD  adding the extra day every fourth year 
without exception. This is the Julian proleptic calendar. It applies 
every where in the world, evnn parts beyond Roman influence. That's 
why you read about the simultaneous Jupiter-SAturn-Sun conjunction 
during February 2012BC. Of course there was no 'February' or '2012BC' 
in the contemporary culture back then. It's the month that coincides 
with the event as taken from the Julian calendar extended back into 
that era. 
    After the Roman influence waned in the 400s and Europe entered the 
Dark Ages, the leapyear feature endured without serious challenege. 
    The Julius Caesar calendar system with the Augustus cleanup, is 
the present Julian calendar. Many cultures today, some 3 millennia 
later, still are governed by this calendar. 
Year start
    In the Mediaeval era the practice grew to start the year in 
January, not March. This was likely part of the Christian observance 
of the Nativity in December near the winter solstice. Gradually March 
as the starting month was abandoned. 
    When the year starts in January, February is the 2nd month. Yet it 
keeps its old 28 days! There was no attempt to shift days from the new 
last month of December to fill out February to 30 days.
    An intermediate step was taken by some countries, the start change 
taking place along national lines. This was to have the year start in 
January but the number of the year straddles it into the former last 
month of February. To make sure the reader knew what year is meant, a 
double-year notation was applied. 
    This didn't work well at all. Country by country at some point 
over the centuries aligned the year number to the new sequence of 
months. The final year under the double-number scheme was a short 
year, starting in March and ending in the following December. The 
January after that began with the next year number and everything then 
after fell into place. 
    If you think this transition was confusing and upsetting, yes, it 
was. But we did it. When you crossed a country frontier you could also 
shift calendar date. 
Gregorian reform 
    By the 1500s the every-four-year rule for leapdays accumulated 
serious slippage between dates and seasons. More critical was the 
problems of fixing the date of Easter. The error came from the tiny 
dispersion of the actual year length from 365-1/4 days. 
    We were adding too many leapdays. The slivers of a day very four 
years piled up to about 10 days by the 1500s. Pope Gregorius first 
dropped the extra days by declaring that 1581 October 5 is followed by 
October 16. There is no such a date in western history as October 13 
in 1581. 
    The other major reform was to omit excess leapdays, being three 
extra days every four hundred years. He did this by asserting that 
when a century year is divided evenly by 400 it is a leapyear. A 
century year NOT evenly divided by 4 is a lean year with only 365 
days. The initial century leapyear was 1600. The next and immediately 
previous century leapyear was 2000. 
    The Gregorian calendar took centuries to percolate thruout the 
world, with some countries holding to the Julian calendar until the 
early 20th century. The speed of conversion was along national and 
ethnic boundaries. Perhaps the most famous conversion is for the 
Soviet Union. Its Great October Revolution took place under the Julian 
calendar but in recent years it was celebrated in November under the 
Gregorian calendar. By then the disparity between the two calendars 
was 13 days, throwing the new date into the next month. 
The Caesars
    Without doubt our culture today, both in the Americas and in 
Europe, is founded on the Roman Empire. So very much of our society 
derives from the Romans besides the calendar. Many oldstyle weights 
and measures, the spacing of rails on train tracks, government 
procedures, height of shipping platforms for trucks, American civil 
law, architecture, military tactics, language, mythology, engineering 
come recta mente from the Romans. These are only a few examples. 
    Rome was a dictatorship under the emperors. They ruled by decree 
with almost no challenge except military overthrow. The caesars  were 
ruthless with enemies and conquered lands. They followed decadent 
lifestyles larded with conspicuous consumption. 
    They staged mock battles in the stadia with real casualties. They 
exercised appalling crudelity toward animals and captives. The 
crucifixion was merely a normal way to execute criminals. 
    While, yes, we owe probably without overstating matters, our very 
civilization to the Romans, it remains in the shadow of our hearts 
that we honor, twice each year!, examples of the most deprived and 
perverse rulers in human history. 
    If you really want to learn how Augustus treated alternative 
belief systems and cultures in the eastern Mediterranean lands, please 
inquire at the Christians and Jews. The thumbprint of the caesars is 
pressed deep onto on the history of both cultures today. 
Modern dictators 
    We live with Julius and Augustus every summer, as surely as if we 
had months names for Stalin and Hitler. Both Hitler and Stalin did 
wonderful good for their countries, lifting them from ruins after World 
War I to superpowers in the mid and late 20th century. Both Russia 
under Stalin and Germany under Hitler were genuine political, social 
and military challenges against the United States. 
    I do have to back off a bit. Hitler gave us the rocket that 
enabled the realization of the ago-old dream of space travel. He also 
gave us the darling car of the 1960s beatnik, the Volkswagen. He also 
gave us the Voigtlander camera, Zeiss planetarium, Schott optics firm, 
Zeppelin dirigible, to cite only a few more benefits. 
    Stalin's successors, who continued his oppressive regime, gave us 
sporting and sparring to develop our spacefaring capability. Some 
spacefaring advocates feel that without these two fellows the notion 
of traveling to other worlds, like to the Moon in 1969 and maybe Mars 
in the 2030s, would still be a laughable fantasy. 
    In spite of this boon to humanity, of many they did provide, I 
can't see that any one in his right mind will seriously argue to 
commemorate these gentlemen with so prominent and prestigious an honor 
as a whole effing month! Yep, do ask a Christian or Jew about Stalin 
or Hitler. Please do this before eating a meal. 
    That's what we got for Julius and Augustus. Remember, monuments to 
these caesars and to myriads of other badniks crumbled over the ages. 
Some are now mere footnotes on maps. The names of the months endured, 
essentially without any success to change them. A month name is about 
as permanent a monument you can hope for. 
What to do?
    It took some massive propaganda to unseat Pluto from planetitude. 
A whole new planetarium was built in New York City that simply omitted 
Pluto from the ranks of planets. It had exhibits and decorations for 
all of the planets except Pluto. It stages every so often explanations 
why Pluto can not be a planet. Its crew even got the International 
Astronomical Union in 2006 to go along with a resolution to relieve 
Pluto of planet status. 
    That effort hasn't been all that happily received among 
astronomers. Most that I deal with simply disregard the IAU decree 
about Pluto. Pluto is a planet, thank you very much. 
    What now about the names of the months?
    We probably have to try an attitude like for astrology with its 
signs versus constellations. Go and debunk the month names! 
    In as much as astronomy's traditional function was keeping time  
and knowing that the calendar changes discussed above were based on 
astronomical principles, why not start trashing out July and August? 
    In the initial campaign we could refuse to accept dates in 'July' 
ad 'August' as disqualifying, bogus, phony. It turns out that many 
astronomy clubs do suspend operations in the summer season during July 
and August at least. Can it be that they already are signaling their 
disavowal of these month names? It could be happening already silently 
and quietly. 
The full solution 
    A proper fix would excise July and August completely from the 
calendar and replace them with more beneficent months. It turns out 
that this is real easy to do! We already GOT months named for numbers 
7 thru 10. July is month #7; August, #8. 
    Slide September, October, November, December up two months to sit 
now in their proper numerical places. The month after June is 
September. The 10th month of the year is, ta-TAH!, December. 
    This leaves two months, the former November and December, with no 
names. We'll continue the number and call them Undember and Duodember 
for 11th and 12th month. 
    The new list of months is
     1 - January    2 - February   3 - March       
     4 - April      5 - May        6 - June
     7 - September  8 - October    9 - November
    10 - December  11 - Undember  12 - Duodember 
Three ways to do it 
    There are three schools as I know for the number of days in the 
new months. One says that we merely change the name sign over the old 
month, nailing the 'September'  over the old 'July'. The days and 
other calendar attributes of the 7th month remain as are, with 31 
days. So it is for the other months. Undember has the 30 days of 
former November and Duodember has the 31 days of former December. 
Second level revision 
    The second camp asserts that the attributes of new September and 
other months go with the name. The new 7th month now has the 30 days 
of old September and the new 10th month has the 31 days of old 
December. Undember and Duodember take up the pattern by having 30 and 
31 days. 
Third level revision 
    The third school seeks to regularize the day counts across the 
months into a neat 31-30 alternation. June has 30 days, then the 
remaining months have 31, 30 days. Duodember has 30 day, then January 
has 31. February gets the leftover days, 29 of them. February gains one 
day for a lean year and a second one, for 30 in all, in leapyear. 
    The latter two schemes, with rearranged series of days per month, 
will completely ruin all computer code for calendar maths! Unless some 
preliminary inspection of the date is done first, to segregate the old 
from the new set, any maths on the dates will be erroneous to the max. 
   I myself believe that the first, simplest, change is sufficient. 
The NAME of the months are straightened out, leaving intact all the 
attributes within the months alone. 
    The treatment of holidays presents is not trivial. Of all the 
intriguing and weird ways I heard of to place the present holidays 
into the new set of months, none really work. It is probably best 
leave holidays in their present relative places within the year. A day 
in the eighth month now remains in the new eighth month. 
    Independence Day is September 4th. Labor Day is the first Monday of 
November. Thanksgiving is the fourth Thursday of Undember. Christmas 
remains the Duodember 25th. New Year's Eve is Duodember 31st. These 
are examples from American holidays. Other countries may fit their own 
holidays into the new sequence of months. 
    Attempting to move the holidays with the months doesn't work. 
There is no longer a 'July' and 'August'. Dates in these months fall 
orphaned and must be arbitrated somewhere else in the new sequence of 
months. Undember and Duodember never had a history of holidays and 
don't easily generate new ones. 
    One proposal is to shift all the July and August holidays into 
Undember and Duodember but I couldn't find any one who seriously 
entertained this idea. American Independence Day, now on July 4th, 
would move to Undemver 4th. This is a shift from summer to fall for a 
holiday that has a vigorous summer-based activity. 
Mindset shift 
    Will the change of names louse up every body's sense of time? If 
we give a date as 'September 23' it can be 'old 9th month, 23rd say' 
or 'new 7th month, 23rd day'. This can cause missed appointments and 
deadlines for sure. 
    You noticed how quickly and casually people adjusted to the 24-hr 
clock? No one seriously mistakes an hour cited in 24-hr mode over one 
in the old 12-12 mode. A voiced over time, like in transport depots, 
is equa mente in 12-12 and 24-hr mode. No one choked. 
    Remember the radio alphabet: 'Able, Baker, Charlie, Dog, Eagle, 
...'? Suddenly, in the 1980s, the US went to the NATO set of words: 
'Alpha, Bravo,Charlie, Delta, Echo, ...'. No one choked. 
    How about in the 1960s when temperatures were changed from 
centigrade to Celsius or cycles/second to Hertz? No one choked. 
    At first there can be confusion but in New York we have a similar 
situation of name changes every couple years. After the initial 
disorientation, every one clicks into the new scheme. 
    Place names are routinely changed, like streets and buildings. The 
PanAm building is now MetLife building; Triboro Bridge is now Robert 
Kennedy Bridge; Interboro Parkway is now Jackie Robinson Parkway; 
Lenox Av is now Malcom X Bv; Starrett City is now Towers at Spring 
Creek; Broadway-Nassau station is now Fulton St station; Lawrence St 
station is now Jay St-MetroTech station; and on and on. 
    These name changes come sporadicly, sometimes with no warning. You 
just see the new name tablet where the old one was. 
    In an other series of name changes the New York subway lines are 
commonly called by the routes that work them. The 7th Av line is 
called the '1, 2, 3' line because routes #1, #2, #3 operate on it. The 
West End line is called the 'D' line after route D that now runs in 
    Routes can -- and do! -- switch around frequently. In some cases 
the change is daily or horary, like day versus night service. The 
Montague Tunnel line has either route R or N in it, but not both 
together. It's called the 'N, R' line any way. 
    When services are revised every couple years, the lines also 
change names. The line named 'D' was in various years the Brighton 
line, Culver line, and West End line. Reading old litterature, like 
travel instructions, can really get you good and lost. 
    A worse situation is when you seek a line but ask for it by its 
route. If you ask for the 'M' train when you really want the Nassau St 
line you will end up on the 6th Av line. Route M was diverted from 
Nassau St to 6th Av a couple years ago. 
    It really takes only one or two mistakes to set you straight. It 
seems that after the first few days of miscalling a line after the 
change, people seem to adjust well. 
    On a national scale, we had in the US the change of endpoints for 
Daylight Savings Time. It used to start on the first Sunday of April. 
Computers and automatic clocks were built with this rule in their 
    Now the rule is that Daylight Savings Time starts on the second 
Sunday in March. For the first couple years there were mixups. Yet 
after then every one just accepts the new rule. 
    It seems that for the names of the months, a similar startup 
confusion will prevail, maybe for a few months. Then suddenly every 
one understands the new system and takes off with it. You'll only have 
to show up at the pier two months late for an October cruise to learn 
that 'October' now really is the 8th month and no longer the 10th. 
Coding and writing 
    Virtually all computer coding for calendar maths uses numbers for 
the months. When you key in September' or pick it from a list, it is 
translated to '9'. Under the new scheme, after the changeover date, 
the coding is '7'. The action is transparent to the operator. I assume 
this scenario implies ONLY the switching of names and NOT revising the 
day counts or other attributes. 
    It'll be like entering dates in Julian or Gregorian form. A tick 
box tells which is intended. Or, like the October 1581 dates, the 
computer code knows that dates up to October 5 in 1581 are Julian and 
aft dates from October 16 are Gregorian. It rejects dates in between. 
    A similar tactic is done with Daylight Savings Time. A computer 
accepts times on the initial date of DST up to 01:59:59. The very next 
acceptable second for entry is 03:00:01. It tosses as invalid an entry 
like 02:11:22, there being no such a time when DST begins. 
    In handwritten work, it's already best to write the month as a 
numeral. '18 December 2018' is now '18.XII.2018' and becomes after the 
switch '18.X.2018'. What ever NAME you call it, it's the TENTH month. 
    Announcements, notices, other dated material during the transition 
period could adopt an all-number method for writing dates. 'The film 
plays 12.VIII thru 10.IX' prevents thinking that the film is running 
in old August thru old September. It runs in new October thru new 
November, the new 8th and 9th month. 
    Unlike the train routes in New York, a person loses nothing by 
accepting the new order of months. Riding the M route over 
Williamsburgh Bridge toward Manhattan, under the belief you're heading 
into Lower Manhattan. will send you into midtown, good and far from 
Lower Manhattan. You lose time and gain agida. 
    Going with the new names of the months has minimal affect on your 
daily routine. It's actually easier to know that November, the 9th 
month of the year, means the year is about 3/4 over and fall begins 
within it. 
    Where can the impetus for this calendar shift come from? Obviously 
from the folk most vested in time keeping, the astronomers! 
Observatories, planetaria, astronomy clubs, astronomy services, all 
can mount a unified campaign to instruct the public to the benefits, 
and minimal malefits, of getting the months back in order. 
    Just like for astrology and Pluto, they can stage shows to boost 
the plan, explain it, demonstrate its scientific rectitude. Such 
erudition and edification of the public are what these organizations 
are built for, right? 
    An other grand ally is the media industry. It can in coordination 
with the astronomers. start citing dates in the new system. Jingos, 
skits, puppets, cartoons, posters can be used to prepare for the 
coming change. 
    I didn't find a bonafide agitator for the realignment of the 
months as at February 2012. The dialog I came across is from isolated 
groups or persons who muse about getting the world back in order after 
the Romans left town. The debacle of planet Pluto and the continual 
flap about signs and constellations in the zodiac added at least a 
flash of activity to the new-months movement. 
    The closest I found, in 2011, was a call to stop precessing star 
positions every half century. Why not keep to one epoch, say 2000, 
from now on? Let computers do the precession as needed banked off of 
the one single universal permanent catalog data? This theme looks 
marginal at best, altho it would save a lot of trees in printing new 
atlases and catalogs every few decades. 
    Can you simply begin right now to use the new months? Indirectly 
you can. Start writing dates only in number form to the maximum extent 
feasible. When stating a month by name, note that it's the new place-
in-year month. Try issuing schedules and almanacs with the new months 
with explanatory instructions. Lobby politicians to adopt the new plan 
within your county or state. 
    I suspect there will be an uphill struggle to revise the months. 
It took emperors and popes to make previous reforms and some weren't 
accepted until centuries later. On the other hand, place name and 
train ro/ute changes are issued by low-level burocrats. 
    You can take hope from that planetarium in New York where thru its 
gigantic glass front you see all of the planets hanging from the roof 
beams, except Pluto.