A New Year in Southeast and South Asia

Lunar calendars in southeast and south Asia are marking a new year at the time of the new moon in April 2018, this according to the U.S. Department of State.

The peoples who are celebrating a new year are:

  • Lao
  • Thai
  • Khmer
  • Nepali
  • Bengali
  • Sinhala
  • Tamil

This new moon is the first since the spring equinox.

On the Hebrew calendar, this is the new moon of the month of Iyar. Iyar is the second month of the calendar, although the new Jewish year begins with the new moon of the seventh month. This is the holiday Rosh Hashanah.

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Daylight Savings Time and the Oil Embargo of 1974

In about 1974, the U.S. Congress mandated that the entire country remain on a daylight savings clock all year long. The oil producing countries (OPEC) were holding back petroleum exports to the U.S. By retaining daylight savings time in the winter, our basic work and school days occurred during daylight hours. Offices didn’t need to turn on lights during the last hour or so of the 9-5 workday. Presumably, using less electricity during daylight savings time would reduce usage of petroleum.

K-12 schools were in session during daylight hours. However, people discovered that children were heading off to school while it was still dark. Young people who had after-school activities were also coming home in the dark. As a safety matter, parents didn’t like the idea that their children were between home and school in the dark. Parents who would not let their children ride bicycles at night found that they were in a position to decide whether the youngsters would take bicycles to and from school.

After one winter, Congress resumed the previous winter clock of standard time. Youngsters, for the most part, were again outside during daylight hours.

To cite examples for the northern tier of states, the sun rises in December, January, and February at about 7 – 7:15 AM. In terms of daylight savings time, the sun rises between 8 and 8:15 AM.

At the same time, in most of the southernmost states, the sun rises in December, January, and February at about 7 AM. In terms of daylight savings time, the sun rises a little before 8 AM except in January when the average is about 8:15 AM.

However, on Florida’s panhandle (in the eastern time zone) the winter sunrise is around 7:30 AM – 8:30 AM daylight time. A legislative discussion in Florida has been to enact daylight savings time all year long. As such, youngsters in Tallahassee, the state capital, would be heading to school in the dark during the winter.

It seems that legislators in Florida do not have the experience of winter 1974 at their fingertips. Some hadn’t yet been born; others wouldn’t remember, of course.

Only Southern California seems to have an advantage over most other populous regions of the country by about fifteen minutes, though.

Those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.

Watching the star Sirius in early January

Wednesday, January 3, 2018 – Kansas City, USA

I saw the constellation Orion in the southeastern sky, just above the tree line, at 6:30 PM Central Standard Time. This was about one hour and twenty minutes after local sunset.

Sirius would correspondingly have been in the east-northeast, still below the horizon.

The sky here was too cloudy tonight to see much other than the brightest stars.

Watching the star Sirius in early October

Tuesday, October 11, 2016 – Kansas City, USA

At 6:15 AM Daylight Time, I saw Sirius about two hand breadths above the horizon, just a bit east of due south. This was about one hour and ten minutes before local sunrise.

The constellation Orion was correspondingly just a bit west of due south.

Compare this with my earliest sighting this year on August 21st. Then, Sirius rose only a short time before sunrise.

More importantly, Sirius was then roughly 20 degrees ahead of the sun. Today, Sirius was about 80 degrees ahead of the sun.

Sirius – the Star

Kansas City, USA

Recently, I was awake before sunrise, and I spotted the constellation Orion in the southeast just before sunrise. This was at Kansas City’s Kosher Barbecue Competition and Festival, Sunday, August 21, 2016.

Follow Orion’s belt Earthward and you see the star Sirius, apparently the brightest star in the sky (in the Northern hemisphere, at least, where I am).

The constellation Orion has been “behind” the Sun until recently. Before that, it was blotted out by the daytime sky. Even Sirius is too faint to be seen (with the naked eye, at least) during daytime.

Sirius skims the horizon. It’s not part of a zodiacal constellation as Orion is. Sirius is not in the path of the Moon or the planets, for example.

I noticed the distinctive Orion and located Sirius by 5:45 AM Daylight Time. Sirius was in an east-southeast direction while the sun was rising in the northeast. Sirius was visible until 6:15 AM or so. By that time, the sky was too bright for the naked eye to detect Sirius. The sun actually rose at about 6:38 AM.

When I first noticed Sirius, is was about a handbreadth above the horizon but finally reached about another handbreadth higher.

Who cares? What difference does it make?

Besides interesting me – a star that is easily seen and that skims the horizon – the first sighting of Sirius marked the beginning of the ancient Egyptian year. Sirius first reappears from “behind” the sun during the inundation season of the Nile River. In the near future, the Nile’s waters recede from having flooded Egypt’s agricultural land, and have deposited fresh silt. Egyptian agriculture begins again.

This fresh silt is the source of Egypt’s agricultural fertility. Egyptians harvested at least two crops during the growing season. With irrigation from the Nile, they often harvested a third crop. Egypt had been the breadbasket of the region. Egyptians regularly exported surplus wheat.

Awake, O Egypt, awake.