Our winter almanac 05.02.2010 – 11.02.2010

The Planets and our Seven Day Week
In the 4th century AD the Roman emperor Constantine made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. This meant that Christians were free from persecution, and that Sunday became a holy day in a new seven-day week.

In the year 321 AD Constantine made the Sun’s day when all citizens, except farmers, should rest from work and worship the god of their choice. Up until this time Saturday, or Saturn’s day, was the holy day for Romans and the sabbath day for the Jews.

Saturn is a huge planet in our solar system, this image gives a comparison of the size of Saturn to the Earth.

The planets of our Solar System .

The new seven-day week was accepted very widely because the number 7 was important to the very popular belief in astrology among the ancient Romans. Astrology as a belief originated in the lands of the middle-east called Mesopotamia.
Mesopotamia in ancient Greek means “land between the rivers” and is now the country of Iraq.

The idea behind astrology is that the movements of the planets have some influence on the events of everyday life on planet Earth. People believed that each of the seven planets that were known in those days, and which for them included the Sun and the Moon, controlled a day of the week. This idea began around 700 BC in Babylon, and produced a system that determined the order of the days of the week. The number 7 was treated as a magical number, but it was the division of the day into 24 hours that explains how people in ancient times worked out which planet ruled each day of the week.

Saturn controlled the first hour of Saturn’s day, followed in its second hour by Jupiter, then by Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury and the Moon. In the eighth hour the cycle started again with Saturn, and this was repeated until the twentyfourth hour of the day, which falls on the hour of Mars. This meant that the first hour of the new day belongs to the Sun, so the day after Saturn’s day was called the Sun’s day. In the old Roman city of Pompeii archaeologists have found a pair of diagrams drawn on a wall that would have been used to work out how the hours and the days were connected to the planets.

The order of the week days can be derived “geometrically” from an acute heptagram, the star polygon. The luminaries are arranged in the same Ptolemaic/Stoic order around the points of the heptagram. Tracing the unicursal line from one planet to the next gives the order of the weekdays.

The seven-day week did not come to Britain until the time the Angle-Saxons came to settle in Angleland, or England, in the 5th century AD. The Saxons used some of the Roman gods to name some of the days of the week, but introduced their own gods to name Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Tuesday comes from the Anglo-Saxon Tiw, Wednesday from Woden, Thursday from Thor, and Friday from Freya.

In the French names of the days of the week we can see how the Roman names are used to this day. Monday is lundi, named after Luna, the Moon. Tuesday is mardi, named after Mars. Wednesday is mercredi, named after Mercury. Thursday is jeudi, named after Jupiter, and Friday is vendredi, named after Venus.

The Constellation Taurus

Taurus was the Constellation Logo for Manor Field School.

Taurus, the Bull, is visible in our winter night skies.

Grey skies of winter but with a patch of blue near Manor Field School 11.02.2010.


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