The French Revolution, Neptune, and Equinox: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Sep 23, 2019

The last rays of the Summer's Sun, the weekend before Monday's Equinox. Donegal Bay, Beaver Island, MI

The moment of equinox occurred at 3:50 am Monday, September 23rd, a date on which a new calendar was introduced in France in 1793, and the planet Neptune was  discovered, in 1846.

Traditionally, equinox-time is associated with balance, but both the French Republican Calendar and the discovery of Neptune brought their own brand of ‘upset’ to this date.

For millennia, the observance of the Sun’s apparent motion through the sky has been marked by ceremony, and the further back we go in history, the more important such observance appears to have been, for determining things like where to build the sacred sites, where and when to honor the ancestors, or how to choose leaders.

But by the time of the French Revolution in the late 18th century, it was believed that the Church and the monarchy had managed to dominate the masses through the manipulation of the calendar by which these celestial observances were being tracked, so they replaced it with their own calendar system.

In this system, the months were renamed according to natural phenomena; and the months were divided into three ten day weeks. This calendar was abandoned in 1805.

And then about 50 years later, the planet Neptune was discovered, not merely by observing the sky with a telescope, but through mathematic equation based on the behavior of the planet Uranus.

Here in the 21st century, Neptune is recognized as the outer-most planet in our system; the Gregorian calendar is used as the world civic calendar; and to calculate the moment of Equinox, astronomers use the ‘international celestial reference frame’ a system that determines the relationship between Earth and Sun by measuring 212 points outside our galaxy.