In which our intrepid hero realises what should have been obvious.

New Year’s Day was not pleasant in Sydney; it got up to 44°C (that’s 111°F for those of you from beyond the marches of the metric system) and I ended up sleeping all day to keep my core temperature down.

It got me to thinking, Just how the hell does it get that hot in Sydney? I was used to the occasional 40-something day in Canberra, but it almost never happens here.

I knew it had to do with low humidity and long, heavy insolation (it being summer and all), but it reminded me of something that had bugged me for years. I always wondered how January 1st got to be the start of the year, given that it really didn’t have any independent significance of its own.

And then it dawned on me (so to speak): summer solstice (winter solstice in the northern hemisphere) is about nine days prior. And it probably moved there with the changeover to the Gregorian calendar. Under the Julian calendar, it must’ve fallen on January 1st.

It seems so obvious. I feel a bit like Isaac Asimov did when he wanted to work out the orbital periods of Saturn’s moons, and inadvertantly "rediscovered" Kepler’s Third Law.