JyotishTools Blog

Info and tips for JyotishTools products.

Don't We Love Time Zones?

It’s that time again in the US when clocks in most states will have to “spring forward” or add an hour for Daylight Saving Time. It effects all states except Arizona, who voted not to observe it and Hawaii which is too near the equator for it to make any sense. The latter is true of most countries in the tropics. Makes life easier.

Time zones are the bane of astrologers existence. We don’t get much sympathy either from the officials who change them at their whim. Over a decade ago when I made Jyotish Tools for Windows available I made arrangements with Astro Computing Services to include a plug-in that supports their ACS Atlas. So if one had the ACS Atlas installed on their PC then Jyotish Tools could access it.

Since then ACS fell on hard times. The atlas was bought by AstroLabe which now maintains it though I’m not sure if version 3 is compatible with the plugin in Jyotish Tools.

Over the past decade a open source project called Geonames developed which maintains a freely downloadable atlas of virtually every location on earth complete with longitude, latitude and timezone. The timezone listing provided is based on what was once called the Olson Time Zone Database and now maintained by IANA.org .

The timezone database as it is known is used on Linux servers as well as on Android devices. Jyotish Tools and Tropcial Skies both use that database as well as the Online Horoscope. It is also somewhat historically accurate. I say “somewhat” because I grew up in Washington state and the time zone given for locations there is Los Angeles. Thing is I recall as a kid when California observed Daylight Time and Washington didn’t. So astrologers may want to observe some care when using atlases based on it. But that’s too is part of being a good astrologer.

Of course these days we’re doing more and more charts of folks born in the latter part of the 20th century and after 1967 when US time zones and DST changes were standardized…. somewhat. Indiana seems to like to play around with time zones and some cities prefer to use a time zone of a city across the state line. So it is still complicated.

Daylight Time is controversial anyway. It was supposed to save energy but research says it doesn’t. The insurance industry also says that “spring forward” results in more accidents in the first two weeks of DST. That lost hour of sleep takes it’s toll.

Then there is the whole question of time zones being obsolete themselves. Think how much simpler it would be if birth times were written as UTC. In the Internet age where we are instantly connected to people on the other side of the planet then time zones no longer make much sense. Some organizations already use UTC (the time at 0 degrees longitude). Here astrologers will have some help because there are members of the tech industry who favor this change too.