Julian day

Julian day is the continuous count of days since the beginning of the Julian Period and is used primarily by astronomers, and in software for easily calculating elapsed days between two events (e.g. food production date and sell by date).[1]

The Julian Day Number (JDN) is the integer assigned to a whole solar day in the Julian day count starting from noon Universal time, with Julian day number 0 assigned to the day starting at noon on Monday, January 1, 4713 BC, proleptic Julian calendar (November 24, 4714 BC, in the proleptic Gregorian calendar),[2][3][4] a date at which three multi-year cycles started (which are: Indiction, Solar, and Lunar cycles) and which preceded any dates in recorded history.[5] For example, the Julian day number for the day starting at 12:00 UT on January 1, 2000, was 2 451 545.[6]

The Julian date (JD) of any instant is the Julian day number plus the fraction of a day since the preceding noon in Universal Time. Julian dates are expressed as a Julian day number with a decimal fraction added.[7] For example, the Julian Date for 00:30:00.0 UT January 1, 2013, is 2 456 293.520 833.[8] Expressed as a Julian date, right now it is 2458874.5104167. [refresh]

The Julian Period is a chronological interval of 7980 years; year 1 of the Julian Period was 4713 BC (−4712).[9] The Julian calendar year 2020 is year 6733 of the current Julian Period. The next Julian Period begins in the year AD 3268. Historians used the period to identify Julian calendar years within which an event occurred when no such year was given in the historical record, or when the year given by previous historians was incorrect.[10]


The term Julian date may also refer, outside of astronomy, to the day-of-year number (more properly, the ordinal date) in the Gregorian calendar, especially in computer programming, the military and the food industry,[11] or it may refer to dates in the Julian calendar. For example, if a given "Julian date" is "October 5, 1582", this means that date in the Julian calendar (which was October 15, 1582, in the Gregorian calendar—the date it was first established). Without an astronomical or historical context, a "Julian date" given as "36" most likely means the 36th day of a given Gregorian year, namely February 5. Other possible meanings of a "Julian date" of "36" include an astronomical Julian Day Number, or the year AD 36 in the Julian calendar, or a duration of 36 astronomical Julian years). This is why the terms "ordinal date" or "day-of-year" are preferred. In contexts where a "Julian date" means simply an ordinal date, calendars of a Gregorian year with formatting for ordinal dates are often called "Julian calendars",[11] but this could also mean that the calendars are of years in the Julian calendar system.

Historically, Julian dates were recorded relative to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) (later, Ephemeris Time), but since 1997 the International Astronomical Union has recommended that Julian dates be specified in Terrestrial Time.[12] Seidelmann indicates that Julian dates may be used with International Atomic Time (TAI), Terrestrial Time (TT), Barycentric Coordinate Time (TCB), or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and that the scale should be indicated when the difference is significant.[13] The fraction of the day is found by converting the number of hours, minutes, and seconds after noon into the equivalent decimal fraction. Time intervals calculated from differences of Julian Dates specified in non-uniform time scales, such as UTC, may need to be corrected for changes in time scales (e.g. leap seconds).[7]