Looking Up: The Magnificent 7

Dec 11, 2017

Credit Creative Commons / creativecommons.org

This week on Looking Up guest host Bruce Bookout continues our archeo-astronomy lesson on time keeping.

Our calendar has direct ties to astronomy with our count of days as we revolve around the Sun and our count of moonths as the moon goes around the Earth.  The remaining count you might say has a weak relationship to astronomy.

The Week is currently a division of days equaling seven.  It has varied in cultures from as few as four to as many as 20 days.  In many languages the word itself is derived from the word for seven.  The old Germanic word was sennight – seven nights and two weeks was a forthnight – fourteen nights.

So where does the seven come from – the seven were named for the ancient planets or seven luminaries of the sky: the Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.  The sequence change from classic order was driven by astrological reasons. Since planets were directly related to ancient gods, each day of the week was associated an opportunity of pay homage to that ruling god.  Sunday was for Helios, Tuesday for Ares, Wednesday for Zeus and so forth.  As the Greco-Roman traditions were exported by the Roman Empire, weekdays were swapped out for other gods.  Germanic tradition Held that Tuesdays belongs to Tyr, and Fridays were Freya’s day both very close to modern pronunciations.  Wednesdays were Odin’s day, who also went by the name Woden.  The next time you pretend it is just another day of the week, remember to keep the Thor in Thursday.

If you’d like to take a closer look at the time keeping, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.