The planets are still mostly in the morning sky.
– Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, in order downward, and Mercury lowest, descending from its Jan. 1 greatest westward elongation (farthest separation from the Sun).
Uranus and Neptune are on the evening side, and Venus barely, having arrived there on Jan. 9 by passing behind the Sun, so that it is still only a few degrees out and sets minutes after the Sun. It happens to be today at the aphelion of its orbit (its greatest pjysical distance from the Sun).
There are slight improvements to “Astronomical Calendar 2018” (see the tab at top), and the dates of meteor showers will be added soon.
I’m glad that Dave K. asked “What do you mean by using the word ‘instar’?” for these modified versions, and that David Stroud answered, so that I didn’t immediately have to launch into my essay on the cluster of ideas.
There are two such words in English, though I hadn’t known of the existence of one of them. It is a verb, has stress on the second syllable, was coined by poets as far back as 1592, and means “to make something into a star” or “to adorn something with stars.” We could say that the astronomer Conon instarred Queen Berenice’s hair, by making it into a constellation.
The other word is a noun, with stress on the first syllable, and is a borrowing of a Latin word that came from the root of stare, “to stand.” In Latin it meant a “form” or “likeness,” or something that stood for something else – instar montis equum, “a horse like a mountain” – but it was introduced by entomologists in the late nineteenth century as a term for a stage in the metamorphosing life of an insect or other arthropod. An insect or spider is a first instar, or is in its first instar, after it hatches; is in its second instar after it first sheds its exoskeleton; and so on. The next instar can be not only larger but wonderfully different.
I once worked as a library cataloguer (of a rather specialized kind). We had to be careful, when making an entry for a book, to distinguish between its printings and reprintings and editions. Sometimes these categories slid into each other. I became even more interested in this terminology when composing what I thought would be a series of treatises about library science – of which only the first, about a spiral building, got printed. In the treatise on cataloguing, I would have had a lot to say about the subtleties of printings and editions.
But all this fits the situation in which books are printed in runs of 100 or 12,000 copies. There came the technology of “print on demand,” in which you can get a few copies, or one, printed only when needed. And, after that and before the next is needed, you can make changes. This might be called a new edition, if there are many changes; but not if there are few, or one. Nor is it a distinct printing, since you may get a copy printed today and more a few days later. But something needs to be printed in the book to record that there are differences in it. So I decided to use “state.” “State 2017 Jan. 31.”
This is exactly parallel to the way the term is used in talking about prints made from woodcuts or lithographs, on which the artist continues to work after pulling some prints.
And now we come to electronic entities that may not be printed at all. “Versions” of software programs. Documents like “Astronomical Calendar 2018,” which exist only in the ether and flit from screen to screen, are not unlike mayflies. So I think they develop from instar to instar.