An almanac (also spelled almanack and almanach) is an annual publication listing a set of current information about one or multiple subjects. It includes information like weather forecasts, farmers' planting dates, tide tables, and other tabular data often arranged according to the calendar. Celestial figures and various statistics are found in almanacs, such as the rising and setting times of the Sun and Moon, dates of eclipses, hours of high and low tides, and religious festivals. The set of events noted in an almanac may be tailored for a specific group of readers, such as farmers, sailors, or astronomers.
It has been suggested that the word almanac derives from a Greek word meaning calendar. However, that word appears only once in antiquity, by Eusebius who quotes Porphyry as to the Coptic Egyptian use of astrological charts (almenichiaká). The earliest almanacs were calendars that included agricultural, astronomical, or meteorological data. But it is highly unlikely Roger Bacon received the word from this etymology: "Notwithstanding the suggestive sound and use of this word (of which however the real form is very uncertain), the difficulties of connecting it historically either with the Spanish Arabic manākh, or with Medieval Latin almanach without Arabic intermediation, seem insurmountable."
One etymology report says "The ultimate source of the word is obscure. Its first syllable, al-, and its general relevance to medieval science and technology, strongly suggest an Arabic origin, but no convincing candidate has been found". Ernest Weekley similarly states of almanac: "First seen in Roger Bacon. Apparently from Spanish Arabic, al-manakh, but this is not an Arabic word....The word remains a puzzle." Walter William Skeat concludes that the construction of an Arabic origin is "not satisfactory". The Oxford English Dictionary similarly says "the word has no etymon in Arabic" but indirect circumstantial evidence "points to a Spanish Arabic al-manākh".
The reason why the proposed Arabic word is speculatively spelled al-manākh is that the spelling occurred as "almanach", as well as almanac (and Roger Bacon used both spellings). The earliest use of the word was in the context of astronomy calendars. The Arabic word المناخ al-munākh has different meanings in contemporary Arabic than in classical Arabic usage. The word originally meant "the place where camels kneel [so riders and baggage can disembark]". In contemporary Arabic, the word means "climate".
The earlier texts considered to be almanacs have been found in the Near East, dating back to the middle of the second millennium BC. They have been called generally hemerologies, from the Greek hēmerā, meaning "day". Among them is the so-called Babylonian Almanac, which lists favorable and unfavorable days with advice on what to do on each of them. Successive variants and versions aimed at different readership have been found. Egyptian lists of good and bad moments, three times each day, have also been found. Many of these prognostics were connected with celestial events. The flooding of the Nile valley, a most important event in ancient Egypt, was expected to occur at the summer solstice, but as the civil calendar had exactly 365 days, over the centuries, the date was drifting in the calendar.[note 1] The first heliacal rising of Sirius was used for its prediction and this practice, the observation of some star and its connecting to some event apparently spread.
The origins of the almanac can be connected to ancient Babylonian astronomy, when tables of planetary periods were produced in order to predict lunar and planetary phenomena. Similar treatises called Zij were later composed in medieval Islamic astronomy.
The modern almanac differs from Babylonian, Ptolemaic and Zij tables in the sense that "the entries found in the almanacs give directly the positions of the celestial bodies and need no further computation", in contrast to the more common "auxiliary astronomical tables" based on Ptolemy's Almagest. The earliest known almanac in this modern sense is the Almanac of Azarqueil written in 1088 by Abū Ishāq Ibrāhīm al-Zarqālī (Latinized as Arzachel) in Toledo, al-Andalus. The work provided the true daily positions of the sun, moon and planets for four years from 1088 to 1092, as well as many other related tables. A Latin translation and adaptation of the work appeared as the Tables of Toledo in the 12th century and the Alfonsine tables in the 13th century.
The first almanac printed in the Thirteen Colonies of British America was William Pierce's 1639 An Almanac Calculated for New England. The almanac was the first in a series of such publications that Stephen Daye, or Day, printed each year until 1649 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Cambridge/Boston area in Massachusetts soon became the first center in the colonies for the annual publication of almanacs, to be followed by Philadelphia during the first half of the eighteenth century.
Samuel Stearns of Paxton, Massachusetts, issued the North-American Almanack, published annually from 1771 to 1784, as well as the first American nautical almanac, The Navigator's Kalendar, or Nautical Almanack, for 1783. Andrew Ellicott of Ellicott's Upper Mills, Maryland, authored a series of almanacs, The United States Almanack, the earliest known copy of which bears the date of 1782. Benjamin Banneker, a free African American living near Ellicott's Mills, composed a series of almanacs for the years of 1792 to 1797.
Currently published almanacs such as Whitaker's Almanack have expanded their scope and contents beyond that of their historical counterparts. Modern almanacs include a comprehensive presentation of statistical and descriptive data covering the entire world. Contents also include discussions of topical developments and a summary of recent historical events. Other currently published almanacs (ca. 2006) include TIME Almanac with Information Please, World Almanac and Book of Facts, The Farmer's Almanac and The Old Farmer's Almanac and The Almanac for Farmers & City Folk. The Inverness Almanac, an almanac/literary journal, was published in West Marin, California, from 2015 to 2016. In 2007, Harrowsmith Country Life Magazine launched a Canadian Almanac, written in Canada, with all-Canadian content. The nonprofit agrarian organization the Greenhorns currently publishes The New Farmer's Almanac as a resource for young farmers.
Major topics covered by almanacs (reflected by their tables of contents) include: geography, government, demographics, agriculture, economics and business, health and medicine, religion, mass media, transportation, science and technology, sport, and awards/prizes.
The GPS almanac, as part of the data transmitted by each GPS satellite, contains coarse orbit and status information for all satellites in the constellation, an ionospheric model, and information to relate GPS derived time to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Hence the GPS almanac provides a similar goal as the ancient Babylonian almanac, to find celestial bodies.
An almanac is a set of dates and information for a calendar year. It is a set of information, in or around one subject, that can be referenced and usually includes statistics, dates, predictions, and other information such as weather, celestial placements, tides, and more. Almanacs are produced and updated annually to reflect current information.
The modern use of the word almanac first appeared in 1267 from Roger Bacon's Opus Majus. Prior to the printing press being invented in 1436, almanacs were handwritten, usually on clay tablets or parchment. One of the first printed almanacs was the Kalendar of Shepards, printed in England in 1497. The earliest forms of almanacs were almost entirely astronomical information and weather patterns. Many ancient civilizations believed that various aspects of life were influenced by the stars and planets, including weather and religious events. It is not uncommon to see divination and horoscopes, especially in medieval almanacs. By 1600, almanacs were the most commonly consumed media, behind the Bible.
Almanacs, or almanac-like texts, have been a source of information for many civilizations. The earliest records account for these texts appearing as early as 2000 BC, and they likely were in use earlier. Almanacs are important texts that brought information to people and helped manage daily activities such a farming, religious events, and more. Early versions of almanacs were likely produced by astronomers and astrologers, who would calculate and record the daily movements of the sun, moon, planets, and stars.
Some of the earliest known versions of almanacs are the Babylonian almanacs, dating to the first century AD. These almanacs were known as hemerologies and contained a list of favorable and not favorable days. These hemerologies were carved into tablets and sometimes provided astronomical information. For example, a hemerology would indicate if a day was an advantageous time to plant crops or get married. The Babylonian almanac would also warn readers about days that were deemed unfavorable, such as bad days to swear oaths or unlucky days to eat fish. The ancient Egyptians also used hemerologies.
More closely related to the modern-day almanacs were the Greek parapegma tablets. Parapegmas were a table carved into stone and included days of the month with movable pegs that contained information on star phases and weather predictions. The parapegmas grew into much larger sources of information. By the 2nd century AD, Greek astronomer Ptolemy published ''Phaseis'' which consisted of seasonal weather such as farming dates and the times of sunrise and sunset. It also included astronomical information like stars, constellations, and celestial events such as eclipses and solstices. 2b1af7f3a8