1998
@ 1998 Elsevier ScienceLtd
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Pergamon
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Abstract
1. Introduction
There is a need for a World Calendar that would have more regularity in the arrangement of
months and of the whole year than the present (Gregorian) calendar and that would be perpetual
(constant). In this connection, in the 195Os, following long previous efforts by individuals and
organisations, the United Nations Economic and Social Council was seriously considering a
number of proposals for calendar reform. These efforts came to an end in 1956 when there was a
vote on the proposal to use the Universal Calendar that had been previously chosen as the most
appropriate. (There had earlier been more than 400 various plans and their variants proposed.)
The Universal Calendar failed to get sufficient support, though some countries voted in its favour.
The whole question of calendar reform was then postponed indefinitely (see also, e.g., comments
in Ref. [3]).
494
J. .fur&
Seen from our present perspective, the decision then taken was right. The selected proposal,
as well as some others considered before, had a significant chronological inconsistency: while
the week, as a chronological cycle, would have been preserved, its continuity would have been
interrupted by extracalendrical days. These (also called blank) days, the 365th and 366th, would
have interrupted the flow between years and also within a year in leap years. The calendar proper
would have consisted of only 364 days, forming a constant standard calendar. As this was an
integral multiple of weeks (there were 52 in the standard year), its dates were fixed to the days
of the week.
The idea of extracalendrical days stabilising the dates of a calendar visCvis the days of the
week appears in an essay by an unknown author in the state of Maryland in the U.S. (1745). Later
the same idea was independently conceived by an Italian abbot, M. Mastrofini (1834), in what
was the earliest serious attempt to construct a 12month calendar with fixed dates. The arrangement of months in the Universal Calendar is essentially the work of a French astronomer, G.
Armelin (1884), who was awarded a special prize for his proposal by the French Astronomical
Society. (Watkins [7, pp. 77791, describes all the relevant history, as well as other proposals, in
more detail.) In Arrnelins scheme the months in a quarteryear have, successively 31, 30, and
30 days. It begins with Sunday and ends with Saturday, and each month has 26 workdays. The
standard year thus has 4 equal quarteryears and two equal halfyears. The proposal rectifies the
unequal lengths of months that have arisen from the archaic Roman model, and represents an
optimum scheme from the point of view of business, planning and statistics. (Interestingly, the
original arrangement of Julius Caesar was more regular than in the present calendar. The months
had, alternately, 31 and 30 days, with February having 29, or 30 days in a leap year; but this
changed in 8 B.C., when the month of Sextilis was renamed Augustus.) It won the greatest international support of any to that time and was recommended by several countries and international
organisations (notably by the International Chamber of Commerce [ 19lo], the International Astronomical Union [1922] and the International Commission of Marine Meteorology [1926]).
Proposals also appeared for fixing the date of Easter, which were supported by the International
Chamber of Commerce (1923) and more formally by the Easter Act adopted by the League of
Nations (1932).
The new calendar would have had many advantages. But it does have the mentioned (permanent) defect, which is serious, and not only from a chronological point of view. The extracalendrical days prevent its worldwide use, since we cannot expect that with the introduction of
a new calendar that other calendars, meeting special needs and having the week cycle as their
indispensable element, would be discontinued. This concerns, e.g., the lunisolar Jewish calendar
and Muslim lunar calendars. Naturally, the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities, as well
as traditionalists of different kinds, strongly opposed its introduction in the 1950s. But there is
another possibility  insertion of a leap week instead of extracalendrical days after a cycle of
years. This was suggested in 1926 by a Frenchman, M.P. Delaporte and later also by others (see
Ref. [7], pp. 101,105). The proposal preserving the continuity of weeks did not then receive due
attention, probably because it had not been elaborated properly. It was also a relatively new idea
that could have benefitted from more time for adequate consideration. This problem, along with
some other questions concerning the form of our calendar in a very distant future, is treated in
this paper.
495
(1)
where m and n designate the number of 6 and 5year leap intervals, respectively. Developing r =
1.74095 as a continued fraction, we get the following values of m, n, r, and of the corresponding
cycle of years c, at which the difference between the number of the tropical and calendar years
will be minimised upon their repetition (Table 1).
Table 1
The lowest optimum leap week intercalary cycles c between 11 and 62 years
m
n
c (years)
r
1
0
6
1
1
11
1
2
1
17
2.0
5
3
45
1.667
7
4
62
1.750
47
27
417
1.7407
J.
496
amhi
Table 2
Sequence of minimum deviations to the tropical year of a calendar with leap week for leap cycles up to 62 years
lb4
6
51
56
1621
10
11
c (years)
6
1111
1171
23
28
34
39
(weeks)
6
1
A (days)
+0.23
0.55
UJ
+0.45
0.34
+0.12
+0.57
0.22
0.10
+0.35
0.44
+0.02
Table 3
Period p in which an error of 1 day accumulates in a calendar with leap week, upon application of leap week cycles
c
c 6s)
11
3
33
1.01
1.2727
N
P (years)
A Ways)
eN (days)
17
9
153
+1.05
1.2353
45
10
450
1.02
1.2444
Table 4
Deviations of a leap week calendar to an average tropical year upon N applications of the 62year cycle over a
period p
N
10
20
30
40
50
620
1240
1860
2480
3100
(ye4
P (y)
P (ye4
+0.15d
+0.27
+0.37
+0.44
to.49
60
70
80
90
100
3720
4340
4960
5580
6200
+0.52d
+0.52
+0.50
+0.46
+0.40
110
120
130
140
150
6820
7440
8060
8680
9300
+0.31d
+0.19
+0.05
0.11
0.29
The sequence of leap years in 6 and Syear intervals for the first three cycles is clear from
Table 1, being 6, 5 and 6 years, and it cannot be otherwise. For higher cycles (417 need not be
considered because of a toolong and not very practicable cycle), the calculation of multiples
of e corresponding to full weeks renders a sequence with minimum internal deviations to the
actual length of the tropical year, satisfying the condition 1A 1 < e/20.62d. The result is in Table
2, where 1 denotes the consecutive 6 and 5year leap intervals and w = m + n the number of
intercalated weeks from the commencement of the cycles; A = e ac  7w are in fractions of
a day, and c in boxes shows the possible cycles > 6 years with minimum deviations (see also
Table 1).
Application of cycles of 11, 17 and 45 years will yield deviations of about one day in relation
to an average length of the tropical year (being subject to a secular change) in periods of years p
given in Table 3, where N is the number of repetitions of the particular cycle c. For comparison
eN = 7w/p, the excess of days in an average length of the calendar year over a standard year of
364 days is also given for each particular period.
Analogous data for the cycle of 62 years, save e,v, are contained in Table 4.
In computing A in Tables 3 and 4, the length of the tropical year lt was taken into account
with its secular decrease due to precessional and Earths orbital changes [2],
Y, = 365.242198781
O.O00006138T,
497
(2)
where T is in Julian centuries since 1900 (January 0, at 12h of uniform Ephemeris Time) and Yt
is in ephemeris days. Taking as a reference epoch the year 2050
A = 1.242189574p  0.00000003069p2  7~.
(3)
p = c . N, w is the number of intercalated weeks, and also of leap years. (For computation of A
in Tables 3 and 4, w = (m + n) N, where m + n refers to corresponding values of Table 1 for the
particular cycle c.)
From Table 3 it is evident that none of the first three cycles could produce an accurate calendar.
Even with a 45year cycle, regression of the dates would be about one day in 450 years. This
would be inferior even to the Gregorian calendar in which a comparable period is approximately
2735 years (when we take into consideration the secular change of the tropical year).
However, the next cycle of 62 years, as A in Table 4 shows, is fully adequate. This cycle,
consisting of two identical subcycles of 28 years (see 1 in Table 2) plus an additional 6year
period, adjusts an average length of the calendar year extremely well to the mean value of the
tropical year given by (2) for p/2. Deviation A = Id occurs only after about 11 191 years.
4. Our calendar in the distant future and in cosmic space
As A computed relatively to (2) is expressed in uniform ephemeris days and our calendar days
are governed by the Earths rotation subject to secular retardation, in reality an error of one day
in the calendar occurs several thousand years earlier. This can be estimated from the formula by
Stephenson and Morrison [6],
AUT = DT  UT = 15 + 32.4(T  O.l)*,
(4)
(5)
which was deduced from different observations (of modem longitudes of Mercury, Venus and
Sun) extending over an interval of merely a few centuries. It is, moreover, also compatible with
paleontological evidence based on the study of growth rhythms of fossil shells of some marine
invertebrates (of corals, stromatolites and molluscs).
This indicates that, except for occasional accelerations, there was an overall systematic deceleration trend in the Earths spin over geological periods (see Ref. [4], p. 280) for at least
2000 My, and a similar tendency also persisted during the historical period (see Ref. [4] pp.
525527). Assuming a constant deceleration, and neglecting an additive constant, UT can be
expressed as
J. ,!brdri
498
AUT  S(l8 .3 x 103)T2,
65)
where i is in s/cy2. T in (5) and (6) has the same meaning as in (2) and UT is always in seconds
of time. For AUT k 1 d/5000 yr, S 2 1.9 x 10S3 s/cy2. The latter value corresponds to a
lengthening of the day by 1.9 m&y, the magnitude of which is fully consistent with that found
from the study of the mentioned paleontological data (see Ref. [4], p. 10; pp. 28,35 and 37; pp.
337338).
The above circumstance illustrates that it is meaningless to strive for a still higher accuracy in
the definition of an average length of the calendar year; and higher cycles of leap years than 62,
such as 4 17 in Table 1, with respect to accuracy, are also of no practical significance. In addition,
their determination becomes unstable, because it depends significantly on the last two digits of
e (its 4th and 5th decimal places); and for periods > 500 years differing values are gradually
obtained. For example, if we take a period of 6200 years, an average e A 1.24200, r k 1.74779.
For the 6th cycle we then get from the continued fraction, instead of 417 years, a cycle of 1719
years, consisting of 194 and 111 subcycles of 6 and 5 years respectively (r = 1.74775), while all
the lower cycles always remain the same.
Only in the future, when the irregularities in the Earths rotation will have been more thoroughly studied, can an exact interval of validity of the leap rule be determined. This will probably be about 10000 years, because after about 8000 years the sign of A in Table 4 reverses. Then
there would be, within the first two leap years of the particular 62year cycle, an intercalation
after 5 instead of 6 years, or vice versa, in order to correct the error. The cycle would then be
run for another great interval, and so on. This way of intercalation would introduce an occasional
correction of ~1 .24d, just as the Julian or Gregorian calendar introduce a correction of 1 day.
The calendar could thus be used indefinitely in accordance with the slowly changing length
of the tropical year and velocity of the Earths rotation, until the latter changed and forced a
redefinition of the calendar, which itself would then change. The change would not be due to its
imperfect definition, but to the reality of nature and the world we live in, which is not governed
by ideal and constant cycles. No calendar can truly be perpetual.
When the tropical year would have less than 364 days, a skipweek calendar could be used
for some time  omitting a week at certain intervals of time, rather than adding it. Theoretically,
this situation will arise after slightly more than ten million years. In a computerised society of
that age (if mankind survives) there should be no problem in keeping track of all such changes.
A parallel calendar of some uniform, conventional days and years (corresponding, e.g. to some
historical average values of the day and year)  started at an earlier epoch and based on atomic
time  could be run for comparative and scientific purposes. It would be analogous to the present
Julian dates and, though its days and years would not agree with the actual ones, it would indicate
the elapsed uniform time from a certain epoch.
It could also be used (with corrections specific to the relevant situation) as a sort of a universal
cosmic calendar in cosmic space. For this application, it could be modified still more. If its days
were an (exact) integral multiple in a year, there would be no leap years. For example, 365 days
could form a year equal (by definition) to the tropical year. These days would be only about 57s
longer than our solar days. If 364 days formed the year, they would be about 5 minutes longer.
(Even this length of day would not affect significantly the physiological rhythm of astronauts on
long space flights). The latter calendar would be very uniform, simple and constant every year.
We have shown that there is no other leap rule for a leap week calendar of comparable accuracy
and simplicity than that following the 62year cycle. A 62year cycle, however, for intercalation
of single leap days and consisting of subcycles of 29 and 33 years, was discovered earlier by an
American, Ch.F. Marvin (193 1) by a different procedure (see graph in Ref. [7], p. 138). He stated
499
that, though this would be ideal, it was impossible to find a simple and convenient rule for its
implementation.
For the standard calendar of 364 days, the calendar of a common year, it would be suitable
to use the scheme of months of the Universal Calendar. It is superior to other schemes and is
internationally recognised. All of its advantages will thus be retained in the new calendar. As the
Universal Calendar begins its year with a Sunday, in the year of an eventual calendar reform, the
1st of January should also be a Sunday. The next three possible such years are 2006,2012,2017.
In a variant of the scheme of months in the Universal Calendar, a quarteryear with months of
30,30 and 3 1 days was also proposed, with its first day as Monday and the last as Sunday. (Also
the year would have its first day as Monday and the last as Sunday.) In this scheme, which in its
properties is otherwise equivalent to that of the Universal Calendar, nominal dates of the seasonal
points would be shifted a day forward. Because the retardation of the Earths rotation also has a
similar tendency, over long intervals of time, their position is, in the Universal Calendar, more
suitable.
Insertion of a week in a leap year would shift the calendar dates of the seasonal points by 7
days to an earlier date. In order to distribute the shift roughly symmetrically around their nominal
dates, it would be suitable to commence the reform with three normal years of 364 days, and to
make the fourth the first leap year. For instance, if the new calendar were introduced in 2006,
20062008 would be normal years and 2009 would be the first leap year of an initial 62year
cycle. The maximum deviations of calendar dates of the seasonal points would then be +3.8d
and 3.7d. A better symmetry is thus achieved than if two common years initiated the reform.
In this case the deviations would be +2.6d and 4.9d.
The vernal equinox, for example, would vary between the 16th and 23rd of March; while in
the present calendar it fluctuates between the 20th and 21st of March. (In the Universal Calendar with Gregorian leap years it would vary between the 18th and 19th of March.) The greater
variation (of approximately 3 days) would not actually be very appreciable, especially if we take
into consideration variations of seasons due to meteorological reasons, which are, moreover, irregular. An actual position of the astronomical seasonal points can easily be determined from the
regular pattern of variations (see Table 5). For example, the 22nd or 23rd of March would be the
date of the vernal equinox in a leap year, and that of the 16th or 17th of March in an ordinary
year following a leap year. Then it would progress, about a day each year, reaching its nominal
position of 19th March at approximately the midpoint between two leap years. Subsequently it
would progress to the 22nd or the 23rd of March and the cycle would repeat. The autumn equinox
would fluctuate between the 19th and 26th of September. Nonetheless, the longterm mean astronomical position of these and of the other seasonal points would be maintained. Eventually, dates
of the seasonal points could be printed on a yearly calendar along with the phases of the Moon,
important anniversaries, etc. Although the new calendar would be in a constant format, annual
calendars would be issued for the purpose of publicity and business, as well as for religious,
cultural and other purposes,
Concerning the position of the intercalated week within a leap year, it would be inserted most
suitably in the middle of a year, after 30th June, to thus not disturb the continuity of months
between years. The additional leap week should have a special, two digit code for statistical calculations. (For example, the months might be coded 01 up to 12, with the leap week as 00.) It
should also have a special name, short and acceptable internationally. As a working proposal its
J. &mSi
500
name could be lychon, taking the base of the word from the name of the famous medieval
Danish astronomer ljcho Brahe, whose accurate observations contributed profoundly to the discovery by Kepler of the laws of planetary motion. Some national names could be introduced for
the leap week too. The birthday of those born in Tychon could be celebrated in ordinary years
on the corresponding dates of July.
6. Calculation of the character of years
To determine a leap year, a straightforward procedure is to get the nearest multiple of the
particular 62year cycle and add c from Table 2. The relevant formula reads
Y = E;, + 62~ + c,
(7)
where E& = Eo  3. Y denotes a year, Eo the epoch year of the introduction of the calendar, EL
an arbitrary beginning of the initial (first) 62year cycle, u the ordinal number of the last complete
62year cycle, and c the remaining interval of years for the particular leap year within the next
62year cycle (Table 2). For computer applications the following formula is more suitable:
Y = E;, + (k . u)RQm,
u0
where k = 62/l 1 = 5.6363.. ., u is the number of leap years since Eo with the product k . u
rounded off to the nearest year (indicated by RDI~). If k is taken to a sufficient number of digits
(e.g., 5.636 can be used up to u = 100, or to about 500 years; 5.6364 up to about u = 1000, i.e.
up to about 5000 years) the formula has no limitation, except when the leap year rule is altered.
When this happens (in a particular year within a 62year cycle, after periods of time likely 10000
years), and in one of the first two leap years the subcycle of 6 is altered to 5 years, or vice versa,
the additive constant will have to be changed accordingly, by adding or subtracting 1 for the next
great period. The additive constant would then be E;I = E& F 1, etc.
Conversely, if we want to find out whether a certain year will be ordinary or a leap year, we
may either compute from (7)
c = (Y  E$
mod62,
(9)
then if c # c for all c of Table 2, the year is ordinary; if c = c, it is a leap year. Gr we may get
from (8)
(u)m = [ty 
Wklm.
(10)
(u)m
is a positive or negative fraction to the nearest integer value of u. (Alternatively, an
ordinary fraction (u)mc can be taken; however, if this is > 0.5, it is necessary to subtract 1.)
Then, if (u)m
> 9 x 10m2,the year Y is ordinary, otherwise it is a leap year.
The rule according to (10) is mathematically the same as that in the Julian calendar with the
difference that the dividing factor k is 4 in the latter, and in the new calendar the condition holds
(u)m
< 9 x low2 for leap years. It is also necessary to calculate the difference Y  E& since
our era is fixed and we cannot reckon the years from E. The leap year rule, nevertheless, avoids
the computational complication of the Gregorian calendar in which centuries not being integral
multiples of 400 are excluded as leap years.
Calculations of the character of years according to the above formulae is simple and can easily
be made on any small calculator. Formulae (8) and (10) eliminate the need even to know the
501
62year cycle, because they produce it automatically. For mental calculations over an interval
of roughly a persons life the procedure can be still somewhat simplified. Similarly, as with the
Gregorian calendar where two pieces of information have to be remembered (the Julian leap rule
and its Gregorian modification), it is necessary to remember the commencing year of the nearest
62year cycle and the factor k = 62/l 1 (5.64), along with the (selfevident) rule that integral
multiples of k rounded to the nearest integer give the relative interval of leap years. Eventually,
instead of k the sequence 1 (Table 2), or the following rule can be remembered: within a 62year
cycle the leap years follow at 6year intervals, with one year subtracted at the 2nd and 5th leap
years and at the two analogous years of the second subcycle, the 7th and 10th. (The sequence is
6,(61),6,6,(61);6,(61),6,6,(61);6).Examplesofcalculationofthecharacterof
years are given in Appendix A.
502
J. h&i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The author would like to thank his colleagues G. Karsky from the Geodetical Observatory
Pecny in Ondiejov of the Research Institute for Geodesy, Topography and Cartography, and R.
Weber, formerly associated with the Astronomical Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of
Sciences, for helpful discussion about some practical aspects of the subject.
503
Table 5
The world calendar with a leap week (shortened
version)
January/April/July/October
Su
1
8
MO
2
9
Tu
3
10
We
4
11
Th
5
12
Fr
6
13
Sa
7
14
15
22
29
16
23
30
17
24
31
18
25
19
26
20
27
21
28
Th
2
9
16
23
30
Fr
3
10
17
24
Sa
4
11
18
25
February/May/August/November
Su
MO
Tu
5
12
19
26
6
13
20
27
7
14
21
28
We
1
8
15
22
29
Marcb/JunclSeptember/December
Su
MO
Tu
We
Th
7
14
21
28
Fr
1
8
15
22
29
Sa
2
9
16
23
30
3
10
17
24
4
11
18
25
5
12
19
26
6
13
20
27
Th
5
Fr
6
Sa
7
years
209320992104
211021162121
212721332138
214421502155
2161.. .
MO
2
Tu
3
We
4
J. hzVi
504
(a) Applying (9), in the first case c = (1595) mod 62 = 45, in the second c = (2997) mod 62
= 21; consulting Table 2, the first is a leap year and the second is a common year. Ihe same
results are obtained from (lo), because (u)FRACequals 0.016 z 9 x 10m2,and 0.274 > 9 x lo*,
respectively.
(b) Taking, e.g., the year 3000, c = (997) mod62 = 5; then, consulting Table 2, the year
3001 would be the first leap year (the first of a 62year cycle that would begin in 2995), and
3006,3012,3018, 3023 would be the next four. The same results may more easily be obtained
from (8), avoiding the need to consult a table. If we first compute u for the year 3000, for example,
we get v = 997/k = 177 (rounded to the nearest integer), which is the ordinal number of the
first leap year (reckoned since E$; for the next 4 leap years the other u will be 178,179,180 and
181, and the corresponding years from (8) then are 3001,3006,3012,3018 and 3023.
8. APPENDIX B: CONVERSION OF CALENDAR DATES TO JULIAN DATES
Julian dates (called also Julian Day Numbers), Jo, have an epoch 12h UT, 1 January 4713
B.C. They provide a continuous count of days, having also the useful feature enabling the determination of the day of the week by dividing JD by 7. The remainder after the division < 7
determines the day, with 0 corresponding to Monday, 1 to Tuesday, etc. The date can thus also
be checked, if the day of the week is known, and conversely. For the conversion of dates of the
proposed leap week calendar into Jo, and vice versa, the following formulae can be employed:
(a) Conversion of a calendar date into JD
JO=
Jo+A+B+C,
A = 364(Y  Ea);
w = [(Y  El) +2)/k]
 0.41RDtNT,
C = 30(M  1) + (M/3)RDrm
+ D + z,
(1)
(11)
C=182+D
for ljchon, with M = 0 by definition. z = 7 in a leap year if M > 6; otherwise z = 0.
(b) Conversion of JD into a calendar date
w = (AY/k)rm,
where
AY = [(Jo  Jc)/365.2419] + 3,
AY = ([Jo  Jo  7(w
 1)]/364}rm,
w = {[(Y  Ec +2)/k]
Y = Ec + AY,
 0.41]RDlm,
z,
505
and
M=M+l
D=D
(I)
M = M
and
D = 31  [(M) mod3/3]RDlNr
+ D.
(10
In the above formulae Y, M and D denote the year, month and day. k = 62/l 1; (Mt) mod 3
can have values of only 1,2 or 3, and R DINT means rounding off to the nearest integer value. C
in (a), Bq. (I), is also a useful formula to compute the number of days from the beginning of a
year, if the date in a month is given.
Examples
J. &mVi
506
Table 6
Comparison of chronological properties of weeks between 5 and 10 days for a perpetual calendar
w (days)
a (weeks)
q (weeks)
e (days)
d (years)
I (years)
5
13
18.25
+0.25
4(l)
20
6
61
15.25
0.15
4(3)
8
I
&
+1.25
5.6
8
46
11.50
2.15
2.9
9
41
10.25
3.15

10
31
9.25
4.15

2.4
2.1
quarterly periods containing an integral number of weeks (see the boxed number in Table 6).
That the discussion of this question is not purely academic is illustrated by the fact that there
were attempts to introduce a loday week during the French revolution, and that a 5day, and
later a 6day week, were experimented with in the 1930s in the former Soviet Union (see Ref.
[7] pp. 112l 16). Both attempts ended in failure. It is good fortune that the 7day week has
survived, providing continuity in all the calendars, and proving itself to be the best length for a
week, verified by the long history of its usage, as well as by our current experience.
References
[l] Elisabeth Achelis, Journal of Calendar Reform, Vol. XXV, Dec. 1955Jan. 1956 (New York)
p. 187.
[2] A. Danjon, Astronomie GBnQale, 2nd ed. (J. & R. Sennac, Paris, 1959) p. 115.
[3] G.V. Coyne, M.A. Hoskin, 0. Pedersen, Eds., Gregorian Reform of the Calendar, Proceedings
of the Vatican Conference to Commemorate its 400th Anniversary 15821982 (Pontificia
Academia Scientiarum, Specola Vaticana) (1983) p. 287.
[4] G.D. Rosenberg, S.K. Runcorn, Eds., Growth Rhythms and the History of the Earths
Rotation, (Wiley, London, 1975).
[5] H. Spencer Jones, Mon. Not. Roy. Astr. Sot. 99 (1939) 558.
[6] F.R. Stephenson, L.V. Morrison, Philosoph. Trans. Roy. Sot. (London) A 313 (1984) 47.
[7] Harold Watkins, Time Counts. The Story of the Calendar, Philosoph. Libr. (New York, 1954).
[8] P.W. Wilson, Journal of Calendar Reform, Vol. V (New York, 1935) p. 20.