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visras in Astronomy Vol. 41, No. 4, pp. 493-506.

1998
@ 1998 Elsevier ScienceLtd
Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved
0083~6656l97 $15.00 + 0.00

Pergamon

PI I: 50083-6656(97)00033-0

THE CALENDAR OF THE FUTURE. A WORLD


CALENDAR WITH LEAP WEEK
JOSEF &Jtifi
Geodetical Observatory Pecny, Ondiejov 244, Czech Republic

Abstract-

There exists a unique perpetual (solar) calendar with leap week


that could become the basis for an eventual world calendar reform. Unlike
the Universal Calendar considered for such a reform by the UN in 1956,
rejected in a vote, it does not interrupt the continuity of weeks, which was
the chief objection against this calendar. Except for the mentioned serious
chronological defect, the Universal Calendar would otherwise have had many
advantages. The leap week concept had been suggested earlier, but was never
elaborated properly. Relevant theoretical questions and a suitable form of the
calendar based on this concept are discussed. There is also a glimpse of the
possible form of our calendar in a very distant future and of a calendar in
cosmic space. The new calendar proposed is an optimum compromise for
a solar calendar. While preserving advantages of the Universal Calendar, it
fulfills all modern requirements: constancy, uniformity, continuity, simplicity
and accuracy. With the leap rule derived (with regard to uniform time) an
error of one day would occur in the new calendar in an interval longer than
10000 years. It could obtain a global acceptance, because there would be no
discordance in the day of the week with respect to other existing calendars
having a weekly cycle (such as, e.g., Jewish, Muslim, etc.). @ 1998 Elsevier
Science Ltd. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction

and a little history

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 extra-calendrical 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 extra-calendrical days stabilising the dates of a calendar vis-Cvis 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 12-month 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. 77-791, describes all the relevant history, as well as other proposals, in
more detail.) In Arrnelins scheme the months in a quarter-year 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 quarter-years and two equal half-years. 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 extra-calendrical 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.

The calendar of the future

495

2. Basic conditions and principles


Let us assume a standard year of 364 days, which is a necessary condition for all calendars of
perpetual form with fixed dates that have a week cycle of 7 days. An excess in the tropical year
over the standard (common) year will then be compensated for by a leap week in leap years.
An important aspect of every calendar is its leap rule, which adjusts the length of the calendar
year to the given astronomical cycle regulating the calendar. Because the day, another astronomical cycle and a basic unit of every calendar, is not exactly commensurable to the tropical year,
there are a number of possible solutions. But only some are accurate and simple enough to be
practical.
There have been attempts to devise a corresponding leap rule for this calendar. In one proposal
a week after 6 years, and then two weeks after 11 years, would be intercalated [8]. In another
proposal (and its variants), called Jubilee Calendars, 71 leap weeks would be distributed over a
period of 400 years in order to preserve the average length of the Gregorian year in between [ 11.
However, none of these leap rules were suitable for the calendar in question. The first mentioned is not accurate enough. Also, 2 weeks are intercalated in some years, which causes an
unnecessarily large displacement of the dates of the seasonal points. Other rules would have
the accuracy of the Gregorian calendar, ignoring the fact that the dates in both calendars would
be predominantly discrepant anyway. It makes little sense, then, to keep the external frame of
the Gregorian calendar (that is, its adjustment to the tropical year) in the new one. Moreover, the
leap rule of the Gregorian calendar was devised for leap days. An entirely new leap rule is needed
suiting the new calendar and, in order to minimise the displacement of dates upon intercalation,
only a single week should be intercalated.

3. Theory of the new calendar


Relaxation of the external frame of the calendar year not only enables us to adjust its length
independently of the Gregorian reference to the tropical year, but also leads to a unique and
optimum (accurate, and simple) definition, as will be shown below.
Considering an excess e of approximately 1.24220d of the tropical year Yt over the 364 days
in a common year, this accumulates to a week in approximately 5.63516 years, or in another
formulation, at intervals of 6 and 5 years alternating approximately in the ratio r of 1.74095.
This is obtained from the formula
r = m/n = (7 - 5e)/(6e - 7),

(1)

where m and n designate the number of 6- and 5-year 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

lb-4
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 6-s)

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 62-year 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 too-long 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 5-year 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],

The calendar of thefiture

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 6-year
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)

in which AU T is the difference in seconds of time between uniform Ephemeris (Dynamical)


Time (DT), defined by the dynamical laws of planetary motion, and Universal Time (UT), defined by the non-uniform rotation of the Earth (which time is very close to the mean time of the
Greenwich meridian). T has the same meaning as T in (2) except that the epoch year is 1800.
From (4) an orientative value of retardation of 1 d/5000 yr in the Earths rotation is obtained. It
is an extrapolation, since formula (4) was derived from observations extending back in time only
to 700 B.C. (The earliest observations treated were late Babylonian records of solar eclipses.)
The estimate, nevertheless, agrees reasonably well with an even greater extrapolation according
to an earlier formula of Spencer Jones [5]
AUT

= 24.349 + 72.318T + 29.950T2,

(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.
525-527). 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.
337-338).
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 62-year 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 skip-week 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 62-year cycle. A 62-year 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

The calendar of thefuture

499

that, though this would be ideal, it was impossible to find a simple and convenient rule for its
implementation.

5. Some practical questions

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 quarter-year 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,
2006-2008 would be normal years and 2009 would be the first leap year of an initial 62-year
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 mid-point 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 long-term 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 62-year 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) 62-year cycle, u the ordinal number of the last complete
62-year cycle, and c the remaining interval of years for the particular leap year within the next
62-year cycle (Table 2). For computer applications the following formula is more suitable:
Y = E;, + (k . u)RQm,

u-0

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 62-year 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

The calendar of thefuture

501

62-year 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
62-year cycle and the factor k = 62/l 1 (5.64), along with the (self-evident) 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 62-year
cycle the leap years follow at 6-year 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,(6-1),6,6,(6-1);6,(6-1),6,6,(6-1);6).Examplesofcalculationofthecharacterof
years are given in Appendix A.

7. Conclusions and a review


The calendar discussed assumes the use of a standard year of only 364 days. Because it contains an integral multiple of (52) weeks, in such a calendar of fixed length the dates always fall
on the same day of the week. For the months of the standard year the format is anticipated of the
previously recommended and internationally most accepted scheme in the Universal Calendar.
Thus in the new calendar all advantages of the Universal Calendar will be retained. The length
of the standard year (which is the same as a common year and is constant from year to year) will
be adjusted to the tropical year by a leap week in leap years. This will not disturb the continuity
of weeks as would a previous proposal using blank days (the 365th and 366th).
Leap years will occur at 6- and 5-year intervals, in a set pattern within a 62-year cycle. Though
the cycle can be easily remembered, it need not even be known. The leap rule, which is mathematically analogous to that of the Julian calendar, takes account of it automatically. Instead of
the dividing factor being 4 for leap years (as in the Julian calendar) the corresponding factor is
62/l 1 = 5.6363.. . in the new calendar. An average length of the calendar year thus defined is
365.2419355d and an accurate mean position of astronomical seasonal points will be maintained
in the calendar in a period of about 10000 years, which will be mainly limited by the secular
retardation in the Earths rotation.
Only after the great period of approximately 10000 years would the leap rule be slightly altered
by just one leap year in one 62-year cycle, to be followed by another long period of years, and so
on. The period of validity of the leap rule can be decided only in the future when irregularities in
the Earths rotation are better known.
In order to minimise the cyclic recession of the seasonal points and to attain symmetry in their
short-periodic deviations, it is sensible to start the calendar with three common years, with the
fourth being a leap year. Then between two leap years the seasonal points would vary roughly
3 days around their mean dates, which would correspond to about the middle of the interval
between two leap years. This variation is tolerable, given the irregular variation of actual seasons.
It is balanced by chronological consistency, greater uniformity (leap years would be only once
in 6 or 5 years, instead of the present 4), and prevailing accuracy of the calendar, When required,
actual astronomical dates of the seasonal points could be either easily determined within accuracy
to one day (see notes alongside Table 5), or be printed in a yearly calendar.
A fixed date of Easter Sunday would be of advantage. In the current calendar it vacillates
between March 22 and April 25. Although at a fixed date, it would also retain in the new calendar,
as a historical reminiscence, a variation of up to a week from the date of the vernal equinox. This
would vacillate between the 16th and 23rd of March (~3 4 days from its nominal date of the 19th

502

J. h&i

of March), while in the present calendar it falls on 20 or 21 March.


The insertion of a leap week (Iychon) can be best made after the mid-point of a year, June
30. This would not disturb the continuity of months between years. The addition of a leap week
in leap years, instead of individual days, is also better with respect to utilisation of time. In
this compact unit it can be used more effectively than in the form of scattered and potentially
dissipated blank days. Regarding monthly payments, in a leap year, the pay for June could be
made inclusive of the leap week to avoid extra accounting, meter reading, etc., for that additional
period. Overall performance data can be normalised for comparative statistics by constant multiplicative factors 30/37 (- 26/32), 13114and 52/53 for the particular 6th month, quarter-year and
whole year.
The new calendar is an optimum compromise from the given possibilities for a solar calendar and could be the basis for a calendar reform. It fulfills all modern requirements: constancy,
uniformity, continuity, simplicity and accuracy. A calendar printed on durable material with a
table of leap years and corrections to seasonal points, could be used for a century or longer. A
possible shortened and practical form of it is shown in Table 5. Annual calendars issued for publicity and other purposes could provide information varying from year to year, such as: important
anniversaries, lunar phases, exact dates of seasonal points, etc.
The first opportune year to introduce the new calendar is 2006, when 1st January falls on a
Sunday. As there is no drastic change (the new calendar respects the historical 1Zmonth system),
its introduction would go nearly unnoticed. The calendar reform would be a step of considerable
global significance, to the benefit of nearly everybody. If introduced, there would still remain in
operation other calendars meeting special needs and maintaining other traditions of humanity.
With regard to them, the new World Calendar would be a suitable interlink. But it would not
happen, for instance, that in the reformed calendar there would be a Tuesday that in some other
calendar (lunisolar Jewish, lunar Muslim, etc.) would be a Friday.
This sort of confusion would often occur in a calendar that relied upon blank days. Also, Julian
dates (used not only in astronomy but also in history; see Appendix B for conversion of calendar
dates to Julian dates and vice versa) would lose their property of determining the day of the week
(by dividing them by 7). Such undesirable and unnecessary confusions and inconveniences are
fully avoided in the proposed plan, which offers the possibility of introducing a unique calendar
of unprecedented accuracy and simplicity.
In the distant future (in intervals of time involving hundreds of thousands of years), due to
lengthening of the day caused by slowing down of the Earths rotation and secular changes in the
length of the tropical year, from time to time, our calendar will have to be redefined and adapted
to new parameters. A parallel calendar of some conventional days and years analogous to Julian
dates, and based on atomic time, may be run for comparative and other purpose.
A final note: in the past there have also been experiments to introduce a week differing from 7
days into our calendar. However, only in a perpetual calendar with a 7-day week is the standard
year evenly divisible into quarterly periods containing an integral number of weeks. No other
length of week between 5 and 10 days has this chronological property (see also Appendix C).

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.

The calendar of thefuture

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

a The leap week is inserted in the middle of a year.


b Anticipated initial year of the reform: 2006
Leap
2009-2014-2020
2026-2031-2037
2042-2048-2054
2059-2065-2071
2076-2082-2088
Mean dates
March
June
September
December

years
2093-2099-2104
2110-2116-2121
2127-2133-2138
2144-2150-2155
2161.. .

of the seasonal points


19
20
23
22

Approximate corrections to mean dates of the


seasonal points: (-3, -2, -1, +l, +2, +3) or
(-2, - 1, 0, +l, +3) days for a 6- or 5-year leap
interval respectively. The first value always refers
to the year following a leap year, the last to the
next leap year until June; since July the correction
is -jd both for a 6- and 5-year leap interval. Intermediate values refer to intermediate years.

lychona in the years 2009.. . b


Su
1

MO
2

Tu
3

We
4

A REMARK TO APPENDICES A AND B


in all numerical examples of Appendices A and B the year 2006 was taken as the first year
(Eo) of the reform. For a different initial year (e.g. 2012), most of the examples can easily be
recomputed (Examples (a) in Appendix A, and all those in Appendix B, plus inclusive leap years
in Table 5) to become new years by adding the difference of years between the new Eo and 2006
(i.e. 6 years in our example) to the particular given year and substituting a new value of Jo for
2453736 for the year 2006 in the examples in (a) of Appendix B. All other computed values in
the mentioned examples remain unchanged.

APPENDIX A: EXAMPLES OF CALCULATION OF CHARACTER OF YEARS


(a) What would be the character of the years 3598 and 5000?
(b) Which would be the first 5 leap years of the 4th millenium?
Anticipating Eo = 2006, Eh = 2003, the solutions are as follows.

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 62-year 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,

where Jo = JD on 31 December of the year (Ec - 1);


B=7w,

A = 364(Y - Ea);
w = [(Y - El) +2)/k]

- 0.41RDtNT,

C = 30(M - 1) + (M/3)RDrm

+ D + z,

(1)

for ordinary months, and

(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,

C = JD - Jo - 364(Y - Ec) - 7w.


If C > 0, Y = Y; otherwise, if C 5 0, Y = Y - 1 and the computation is repeated beginning
with w and substituting Y for Y in the formulae. Further,
M = (C/30)~,

D = C - 30M - [(M + 1)/3]RDlm

-z,

The calendar of thefuture

505

where z = 7 in a leap year, if C 2 190; otherwise z = 0. Then, if


D > 0,

and

M=M+l

D=D

(I)

[if, however, M = 6 and C > 182, M = M - 6 = 0 (lychon)],


D 5 0,

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

(a) 19 August 3002.


= 0.24 > 9 x 10d2 (common year); z = 0; Jo = 2453736 +
From (10) I(u)p&
362544 + 1239 + 232 = 2817751 (W = 177).
26 December 4866.
((LJ)~] = 0.05 < 9 x 10d2 (leap year); M > 6; z = 7; JO = 2453736 + 1041040 +
3549 + 367 = 3498692 (w = 507).
6 lychon 6371; l(u)~l
= 0.03 < 9 x low2 (leap year); M = 0; z = 0; Jo =
2453736+ 1588860+ 5418 + 188 = 4048202 (W = 774). If we divide Jo by 7 we obtain
6, 1 and 4 as the remainder c 7; these numbers correspond to Sunday, Tuesday and Friday,
which is in accord with the days of the week for the given dates of the calendar (Table 5).
(b) Jo = 2817751; w = 177; Y = 996; Y = 3002; w = 177; C = 232 > 0; Y = 3002;
I(u)m]
= 0.24 > 9 x 10B2 (common year); z = 0; M = 7; D = 19 > 0; M = 8;
D = 19. JD = 3498692; wt = 508; Y = 2861; Y = 4867; wt = 508; C = -4 < 0;
Y = Y - 1 = 4866; lo]
= 0.05 < 9 x lOA (leap year); w2 = 507; C = 367 > 0;
M = 12; C > 190; z = 7; D = -4 < 0; M = 12; D = 26. Jo = 4048202; wt = 775;
Y = 4365; Y = 6371; w = 7744; C = 188 > 0; Y = Y = 6371; ](v)~]
= 0.03 <
9 x 10m2(leap year); M' = 6; C c 190; z = 0; D = 6 > 0; C > 182; M = M - 6 = 0
(Tychon); D = 6. In the above examples the year 2006 was taken for Eo.

APPENDIX C: 7-DAY WEEK - THE MOST SUITABLE SUBCYCLE FOR MONTHS


The origin of the 7-day week is sometimes attributed to the number of planets known in antiquity. But more probably (being of a much older provenance than the planetary week which
became known only at about the beginning of our era) it is of lunar origin, having been derived
as a quarter of the lunar month. Irrespective of its origin, and of its arbitrary nature as a chronological cycle, it is indispensable for the subdivision of the month, and as a cycle regulating the
days of work and rest. A I-day unit is just long enough for this purpose, and no wonder it was
introduced millennia ago. But it has also another favourable and distinctive chronological property. Let us consider, for a perpetual calendar, other possible weekly cycles from 5 days to 10, in
the compilation of Table 6.
It is obvious that the 5-day week would have some chronological advantages. But it is too
short, particularly nowadays, when in many countries the two days at the weekend are normally
non-working days. Only with the 7-day week is the standard calendar year evenly divisible into

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

w: the weekly cycle considered;


a: the number of weeks nearest to the tropical year;
q: quarter of a year in weeks;
e: an approximated difference in days of the standard calendar year to the tropical;
d: the number of years in which e accumulates to an integral number of days (in brackets);
I: cycle of years in which e accumulates to a week.

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 lo-day week during the French revolution, and that a 5-day, and
later a 6-day week, were experimented with in the 1930s in the former Soviet Union (see Ref.
[7] pp. 112-l 16). Both attempts ended in failure. It is good fortune that the 7-day 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. 1955-Jan. 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 1582-1982 (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.