Saturday, October 31, 2015

Tonight's Sky for October 31: Galileo Half Off the Hook (1992)

It was on this date in 1992 that the Vatican admitted that it had made “errors” in its handling of Galileo and his teachings over 3 ½ centuries earlier when it brought the famed astronomer before the Inquisition on charges of heresy for teaching that the Earth is not the center of the solar system. However, while admitting “errors,” the Vatican would not admit that it had been wrong. Still, for many in the scientific community, this was a move in the right direction a long, long time in the making.

Don't Forget:
Set your clocks back an hour tonight before bed as Standard Time will return at 2am tomorrow (Sunday). So, knowing you'll be gaining an hour, please take the time to check out some cool time change trivia because, after all, doing so will only take a few seconds!

*Many ancient civilizations divided their days into 24 hours just like us, but adjusted the 'hours’ lengths so that there would always be 12 hours of day and 12 of night (this had to make setting up a date really suck). 

*While he did not propose DST, Benjamin Franklin, while serving as envoy to France, anonymously published a letter, a rather tongue in cheek one at that, suggesting people rise early (and thus go to bed earlier) to economize on candles and make use of natural sunlight. So no, don't blame Ben Franklin for our having to change the clocks (and you being an hour late for church this morning if you forgot to do so!)

*Around the year 1900, two men would bring the idea of an actual time change (rather than the wake up/go to bed time change proposed by Franklin) to the public forefront. In England, prominent builder/outdoorsman William Willet, like Franklin, hated the idea that people were sleeping half their mornings away and, on a personal note, hated having to cut his rounds of golf short due to early nightfall. At the same time, New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson proposed the same thing. Hudson's personal stake: extra daylight would allow more time for specimen collection. The idea failed to gain traction in either hemisphere.

* The catalyst for starting DST: WWI. The idea: push night an hour later so there would be less coal usage and the money saved on coal could be spent on the War. In summer 1916, the Central Powers (Germany, Austria-Hungary, and their allies) agreed to set the clocks ahead for an hour as a means for achieving this goal. The other belligerents quickly followed suit. The United States, which entered the war in 1917, adopted a time shift in 1918. After the War, DST was dropped until, you guessed it, WWII, after which it largely remained in use around the world.

*While we shift by an hour today, twenty and thirty minute shifts, and also two hour shifts, have been used in the past and are currently used in different places over the world.

* The Uniform Time Act of 1966 standardized DST start/stop dates for the United States even though it doesn't require states to observe DST (Arizona and Hawaii don't).

*Even now, start/end dates aren’t standard around the world

*Switch dates are reversed in the Southern Hemisphere

*In some areas, voters have rejected use of DST altogether while in other areas, there are pushes to eliminate Standard Time and have DST all year long (thus making DST the new Standard Time).

*'Standard' Time only lasts 4 months of the year thanks to DST being extended by 3 weeks in spring and 1 week in fall back in 2007 (hardly standard if you ask, me, how about calling it Daylight Losing Time?)

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