After nearly half a year’s efforts, the 2018 Tibet Astronomical and Meteorological Almanac has been completed, and is being proofread by staff members at the Astronomical Calendar Institute of Tibetan Medicine Hospital in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.
Tibetan science of astronomical calendar was dated back over two thousand years ago and is based on the early version of the Tibetan calendar and gradually developed by adding calculations of the five elements, an hourly calendar, divinations of sound, and the introduction of making calendar based on the sun’s position along the ecliptic.
The traditional astronomical and meteorological calendar is calculated using wooden plates covered with sand and a metal drill, which continuously records calculations in the sand. The plate is constantly re-covered with sand in order to be recalculated.
However, a modern data operation system which may calculate calendar data of more than 2,000 years in a short time instead of 30 years by hand has been developed after several years’ study and research by Zhinpa, Deputy President of the hospital and director of the region’s Astronomical Calendar Institute.
According to the relative position and direction of the planets and earth’s axes in solar system, it is possible to calculate and predict the weather, changes in climate, and earthquakes. It is also possible to calculate suitable times for farming and grazing and seasonal phenomena for different regions in Tibet.
According to Tseten Dorje, weather in Tibet will be comparatively cloudier between March and November this year by looking at the almanac.
Common Tibetan people are accustomed with using an almanac daily to see when it is suitable to plant and irrigate crops. Because of this, each year workers travel to Maizhokunggar County not far from Lhasa, to observe the meteorology from the Dapu observatory.
"Based on the observed results, Tibetan people can determine the best time for planting and irrigating crops,” said Tseten Dorje.
"Astronomical calendar has become an important part in common Tibetans’ lives,” he added, “it is related to all aspects of life and livelihood, from when to make koras (circumambulations) to pray to Buddha, to holding weddings and funerals, to the time to collect Tibetan medicinal materials. Basically every household in Tibet has an almanac.”