Thursday, April 5, 2007

In case you were wondering...

Ever wonder where western calendars get the date for Easter? This website has an explanation...

An excerpt:

Computing the Date of Easter

The rule is that Easter is the first Sunday after the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after March 21. The lunar cycles used by the ecclesiastical system are simple to program. The following algorithm will compute the date of Easter in the Gregorian Calendar system.

The algorithm uses the year, y, to give the month, m, and day, d, of Easter. The symbol * means multiply.

Please note the following: This is an integer calculation. All variables are integers and all remainders from division are dropped. For example, 7 divided by 3 is equal to 2 in integer arithmetic.

c = y / 100
n = y - 19 * ( y / 19 )
k = ( c - 17 ) / 25
i = c - c / 4 - ( c - k ) / 3 + 19 * n + 15
i = i - 30 * ( i / 30 )
i = i - ( i / 28 ) * ( 1 - ( i / 28 ) * ( 29 / ( i + 1 ) )
* ( ( 21 - n ) / 11 ) )
j = y + y / 4 + i + 2 - c + c / 4
j = j - 7 * ( j / 7 )
l = i - j
m = 3 + ( l + 40 ) / 44
d = l + 28 - 31 * ( m / 4 )

For example, using the year 2010, y=2010, c=2010/100=20,n=2010 - 19 x (2010/19) = 2010 - 19 x (105) = 15, [see note above regarding integer calculations]etc. resulting in Easter on April 4, 2010.

The algorithm is due to J.-M. Oudin (1940) and is reprinted in the Explanatory Supplement to the Astronomical Almanac, ed. P. K. Seidelmann (1992). See Chapter 12, "Calendars", by L. E. Doggett.

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