THEY GOT IT WRONGJanuary the 1st 2000 was not the start of a new century or a new millennium! In 6AD astronomer Dionysius Exiguus compiled a table of dates. He reset the system of counting years to honour the birth of Christ so that the year 248 Anno Diocletiani became 532 Anno Domini Nostri Jesu Christi - 532AD for short. He made two mistakes - he left out the year 0 (zero) and thought that Christ was born at the end of 1BC. However, research indicates that he was probably born in 6BC and certainly by 4BC. Julius Caesar introduced leap years to the Julien calendar because it uses the fact that the length of the year is close to 365 days and 6 hours. The basic year then became 365 days with an additional day every four years. In the 16th century Pope Gregory realised that a small discrepancy would cause the date of Easter to become closer and closer to Christmas and in 1582 the Gregorian calendar was instituted when it was stated that century years should be leap years if they were divisible by 4. Britain adopted this Gregorian Calendar in 1752 when September the 2nd was followed by September the 14th! As we still use the Gregorian Calendar the year 2000 which is devisable by 4 is a leap year. A millennium is a period of 1000 years and in our case the first year hinges on the date of the first year AD. The sequence of years going from BC to AD does not include a year 0 so the sequence runs 2BC, 1BC, 1AD, 2AD and so on. Therefore the first year of our first millennium was 1AD. The one-thousandth year was 1000AD and the first day of the second millennium was 1001AD. It is thus clear that the start of the third millennium must be January the 1st 2001. The above Information is from the Royal Greenwich Observatory. Geoff, G0EVW - January 2000 |

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