This document is part of the Martian Time Boneyard. It was originally located at http://members.aol.com/terandpatphelan/Mars.htm.
Author: Terry Phelan

The Elemental Calendar of Mars

Of all the many calendars that have been proposed for Mars (links to various others are provided at the bottom of this page), the Elemental Calendar is the only one of which I'm aware that takes into account astronomical phenomena as seen from Mars that Martians could likely have used to come up with their own. It is nothing less than a miracle of Creation that the interval between the summer and winter solstices on Mars -the longest and shortest days of the year in terms of daylight - should average out to be 319 sols - evenly divisible by 29 - and, at the same time, that there should be in the Heavens above Mars, a twin star with an orbit of close to 29 sols duration to assist the Martians in counting that interval.

For Earthpeople planning to move to Mars, this is also ideal since this particular twin star involves our moon orbiting our Earth - a phenomenon upon which, coincidentally, most Earth calendars have also been based.

Description:

The Elemental Calendar of Mars divides the Martian year, or mir, into 23 months called "orbits". To honor the Creator, these orbits are named for the first 23 elements of the Creation.

The orbit of Hydrogen begins at the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere of Mars. The orbit of Magnesium begins near the winter solstice. Each orbit is composed of 29 Martian days or sols. They are listed as follows:

Hydrogen        Magnesium
Helium          Aluminum
Lithium         Silicon
Beryllium       Phosphorus
Boron           Sulphur
Carbon          Chlorine
Nitrogen        Argon
Oxygen          Potassium
Fluorine        Calcium
Neon            Scandium
Sodium          Titanium
                Vanadium

Dates may be written in abbreviated form, using standard chemical abbreviations. The Autumnal equinox regularly occurs around the fourth of Nitrogen (N4) and the Vernal equinox around the 12th of Chlorine (Cl12) each mir, counting 1-29 sols/orbit.

Together, the 23 orbits comprise 667 sols. As the Martian year or mir consists of 668.59 sols, a festival, named Chromium to honor the 24th element, could last one sol in mirs ending in double zero, 2, 4, 6 or 8 and two sols in mirs ending in single zero, 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9. This scheme would yield 66,859 sols every 100 mirs, averaging 668.59 sols/mir. (Martians may choose, however, to eliminate leap-years entirely through placing 100 time zones about their planet, 59 percent of which would, on a rotating basis, experience Chromium as two sols and 41 percent as one sol each mir. Celebrating the Chromium holiday as a 2-sol festival each mir could thus be accomplished with occasional travel. Earth calendars could also abolish leap years through the same strategy, but it would require advancing the international date line a half dozen time zones each year...)

A perpetual calendrical arrangement is made possible through placing an Orbitsol(Orbitday) at the beginning of each orbit(month). Four weeks of seven sols each would follow before the next Orbitsol. The simplicity of this design is illustrated in the two possible perpetual layouts shown below. The one at left uses a sol-numbering scheme of 1 through 29; in the one at right, the Orbitsol is numbered zero. A non-perpetual calendar with either numbering scheme is also possible, in which seven-sol weeks would run continuous, as seven-day weeks do on Earth.

Two possible layouts for the perpetual calendar design:
This layout would banish the dread "Friday the 13th" for eternity on Mars...
ORBIT 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Frisol the 13th (perhaps) would regularly occur every 29 sols in this arrangement...
ORBIT 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28

The orbits coincide with an astronomical observation of 29 sols (approximate) duration which consists of the orbital period of the moon about the Earth, which appears from the surface of Mars as a twin star. (29 sols on Mars is equivalent to roughly 29.79 Earth days, while our moon orbits the Earth in roughly 29.53 Earth days or 28.74 sols, which rounds up to 29.)

Sols of the week:

The sols of the week could retain the familiar names of weekdays on Earth (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) or they could be changed. The following list for naming the sols of the week is proposed to honor the sun and first six planets:

   Sunsol   Mercsol   Venusol   Earthsol   Marsol   Jovesol   Satursol

Counting the Mir:

The Martian sol is 39 minutes, 35.2 seconds longer than the Earth day, making a year on Earth equivalent to 355.5 sols and the mir equivalent to 686.9 Earth days. Depending on whether or not Mars had a hypothetical year zero AD, the current year on Mars would either be 1065 or 1066AD. Unless my calculations are off, the AD year would increment each mir on S3*, as January 1, 1AD would have fallen between the summer solstices on Mars that would have occurred around Sept. 8, in 2 BC and July 25, in AD 1 on Earth.

* S2 if numbering 0-28 sols/orbit.
Discovery:

This natural wonder was discovered on September 23, 2003 by Terry Phelan, upon discovery of an error made in previously_published_data comparing month lengths of 28, 29, 30 and 35 sols in exploring possible calendars for Mars. Counting backwards to the date of the solstice, the date of discovery was determined to be Na27 (using 1-29 numbered sols/orbit) on Mars. The determination of this date was facilitated through use of the Darian calendar, a symmetrically-designed proposed civil calendar for Mars developed by Thomas Gangale and Shaun Moss. (see links at bottom of this page)


Quartering The Mir:

Dividing the mir into even quarters for accounting purposes can be accomplished through taking either perpetual layout shown above and assigning 23 weeks to each quarter. The first quarter would run from H1 through C22 (H0 - C21 if numbering 0-28 sols/orbit) ; the second, C23 through Mg15 (C22 - Mg14) ; the third, Mg16 through A8 (Mg15 - A7) ; and the fourth, A9 through Chromium (Cr1/2) (A8 - Cr0/1). In non-leap years, each quarter would comprise 167 sols, 115 of which would be working sols, given a 5-sol work week. The orbitsols would all be holidays, giving Martians a three-sol weekend at the beginning of each orbit.

The quartered mir with 0-28 sol numbering appears below:

A perpetual Calendar for the planet Mars showing the 23 orbits divided into 4 equal quarters of 23 weeks apiece
Summer Autumn Winter Spring

H 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
He 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Li 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Be 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
B 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
C 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
N 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
O 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
F 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Ne 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Na 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Mg 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Al 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Si 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
P 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
S 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Cl 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
A 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
K 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Ca 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Sc 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Ti 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
V 0
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
Cr 0 1

Simple Conversion:

As a convenient rule-of-thumb, 37 days on Earth is roughly equivalent to 36 sols on Mars. Not exactly, but for date alignment calculations within the time-frame of about a year, the accuracy is reasonably close. For determining Martian birthdays using this method, it is necessary to add one sol for each 8 years (and/or major fraction thereof) of the person's age. Or, for greater accuracy, multiply the age in days by 668.59/686.9 instead of 36/37 to determine the age in sols.

Verses:

Calendars are cultural entities as much as they are scientific; perhaps more so. The following song serves as as both a simple mnemonic for the orbit names as well as a new year's song for Mars:

Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium
Into a new year we will fly...
Beryllium, Boron, Carbon
On Mars we can leap high...
Nitrogen, Oxygen, Fluorine
Breathe the first two out of three...
Neon, Sodium, Magnesium
We'll green this rusty old ball, you'll see...
Aluminum, Silicon, Phosphorus
Oh! The lot we share!
Sulphur, Chlorine, Argon
The trials we must bear!
Potassium, Calcium, Scandium
To all old friends be true!
Titanium, Vanadium, Chro-mi-um...
This year is nearly through!

If Martians choose to establish a fixed "international date line", as on Earth, this poem might help them remember their leap year...

Should the Martian year end in double zero, two, four, six or eight
Chromium lingers just one sol, the calendar to keep straight
But should the mir end in single zero, one, three, five, seven or nine
Chromium's sols shall number two; rejoice, it's new years time!

Finally, some have said that Mars's tiny, rapidly-orbiting moons, Deimos and Phobos, could never take the place of our Luna as objects of love songs and heavenly veneration. They wouldn't have to. Here's a simple song to be sung to the Earth and moon as they do their dance* in the Martian sky:

Calendar star, calendar star
Shining on me from afar
Send your love to Mars tonight
Send me someone warm and bright
You know I need somebody just like you
Who'll always orbit 'round me too
Be sure to send someone who's true
Calendar Star!
Earth's path through the Heavens as seen from Mars * And what a dance it is! Earth completes roughly 15 orbits for each 8 orbits of Mars. (8 orbits of Mars equal 5,495.2 days, while 15 orbits of Earth equal 5,478.6 days.) For a Martian observer, these 7 additional orbits should cause the Earth to scribe a 7-pointed star across the Martian sky every 8 mirs (less 16 sols). In a similar way, Venus completes roughly 13 orbits for each 8 orbits of Earth. (8 orbits of Earth equal 2,921.9 days, while 13 orbits of Venus equal 2,921.1 days.) These 5 additional orbits cause Venus to scribe a 5-pointed star every 8 years as viewed from Earth. To see calendars for Venus, click here.

Comments appreciated! e-mail the discoverer


The basic structure of the Elemental Calendar of Mars involves the discovery of a natural phenomenon that is not copyrightable by any person. All embellishments to this natural design including poetry, songs, etc. are ┬ęTerry Phelan 2004 and freely reproducible by permission.
Note: I have named the orbits of this discovered natural calendar according to a natural scheme I found to be simple and straight-forward. In so doing, I also envisioned schoolchildren on Mars learning their elements in (where else?) elementary school. Should actual Martians reject this scheme, they might choose (for instance) to rename Sulfur Selenium, Fluorine Flammarion, Scandium Scorpius, Chromium Christmas or Hydrogen January. The calendar is theirs to alter as they may see fit.

-Terry Phelan

page updated: ../04

Other Sites To See:
Darian calendar   Darian Defrost calendar   Virtual Mars Calendar   Possible Mars Calendars   Arih Mars Calendar   Mars data