Thursday, September 01, 2011

Of intercalary months, Adhi Masas

The solar month is 30.438030202068 days

A lunar month = 29.5305881 days

It need not be added that a lunation or synodic month means the interval between two consecutive full moons or new moons. Conjunction ( New Moon ) is 0 degrees and Opposition ( Full Moon ) is 180 degrees

Hence a solar year does not have a whole number of lunar months ( about 12.37 lunations ) So a thirteenth embolismic or intercalary month is inserted.

It was observed that 19 solar years or 19*12 = 228 solar months = 235 lunations and hence 7 Adhi Masas were found in every 19 years. An intercalary or 13th month had to be inserted in a 19 year cycle and 19/7 was the ratio. .

They are called Adhi Masas in Indian Astronomy and they were computed using the Theory of continued fractions. The Theory of contiued Fractions is attributed to Euler. This 19 year old cycle is called the Metonic Cycle, named after the Greek astronomer, Meton.

But then the Indian mathematicians correctly computed the Adhi Masas, centuries before Meton or Euler ! The Indian National Calender is lunisolar, whose dates both indicate the solar year and the moon phases and the next date when the New Moon or Full Moon will occur. The length of the synodic month is given as 29.5305879 days in the Surya Siddhanta, which is correct to six decimals. Surya Siddhanta stated that there are 15933396 Adhi Masas in 51840000 solar months !

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