----------------------------------------------------------------- Calculating mean and apparent sidereal time ----------------------------------------------------------------- [ root ] - Overview - Finding days since J2000.0 - Mean sidereal time - Longer time reach - Apparent sidereal time - GHA Aries for navigators Overview -------- 29th Jan 2002: Thanks to Hugh Gibson for finding errors and supplying corrections to the apparent sidereal time formulas here, especially the correction to the GMST to get GAST. The corrected spreadsheet has been checked against ICE and is within 0.03 seconds of time up to 2050. Thanks to Andres Valencia for his re-formatting of the spreadsheet and increase in 'user friendliness' This page contains formulas to calculate the mean and apparent sidereal time. The mean sidereal time on the meridian of Greenwich agrees with the Interactive Computer Ephemeris (ICE) to an accuracy of 0.02 of a second of time within a period of 50 years either side of the year 2000. The apparent sidereal time is good to about 0.1 seconds for 40 years either side of the year 2000. The Nautical Almanac lists GHA Aries (the apparent sidereal time at Greenwich) to 0.1 of a minute of arc. This corresponds to 0.4 seconds of time, so the algorithm here should suffice for navigational applications. Mealy Mouthed Disclaimer: Note that I do not certify this algorithm and no extensive testing has been carried out. The formulas used in this page are sensitive to rounding error. They work fine on a spreadsheet and in most programming languages that allow 'double precision' calculations (double in C, # in QBASIC). A 10 place programmable calculator may suffer. You might find some background helpful if you are not already familiar with the celestial sphere and astronomical coordinates. You can download an example MS Excel 97 spreadsheet along with an SLYK export of the spreadsheet as a 6Kb ZIP file. Finding the days since J2000.0 ------------------------------ All the formulas connecting UT with sidereal time depend on the time elapsed from the fundamental epoch. Older references will use a date in 1900 as the epoch, Meeus and most recent formulas use J2000.0 as the epoch. The formula below will find the days since J2000.o for any date after 1900 and before 2099. That should do me nicely... The year is y, month m, date in the month is day, and the UT time is in hours, mins and seconds. dwhole =367*y-INT(7*(y+INT((m+9)/12))/4)+INT(275*m/9)+day-730531.5 dfrac = (h + mins/60 + seconds/3600)/24 d = dwhole + dfrac INT is an integer part function, so INT(19.6) = 19. dfrac is just the fraction of a day worked out from the UT hours, minutes and seconds. The formulas can be joined into one formula, its just too long a line for this file! d must be the UT days, so you will need to convert your date and time into UT date and time. Mean sidereal time ------------------ The mean sidereal time at zero longitude is often called Greenwich Mean sidereal Time or GMST. The formula below is based on Meeus formula 11.4 with terms in the square and the cube of the time left out. GST is in degrees! GMST = 280.46061837 + 360.98564736629 * d where d = UT days since J2000.0, including parts of a day You must subtract multiples of 360 to bring the answer into the range 0 to 360 degrees. To get the sidereal time at your longitude, known as Local Mean sidereal Time, just add your longitude in degrees, taking East as Positive, so LMST = 280.46061837 + 360.98564736629 * d + Long and again, remember to subtract multiples of 360 to bring the answer into the range 0 to 360. As an example, calculate the GMST on 1994 June 16th at 18h UT. d = -2024.75000 GMST = 281.46061837 + -730905.68950490 = -730624.22888653 now -730624.22888653 divided by 360 gives -2029.51174690702, so we add on 2030 to give a positive fraction of 360, giving at last, GMST = 0.48825309298 * 360 = 175.771113474402 = 175.77111 degs This corresponds to 11h 39m 5.0672s in time units. ICE gives 11h 39m 05.0675s for the same time and date. We can keep about 5 decimal places here, the error compared to the full formula is about 0.000001 degrees. Note that you must use a calculator, spreadsheet or programming language that can keep 14 places of precision with this formula. The Excel spreadsheet has a function called =mod(). A formula like the one below returns the GST directly, given d in cell B3. =MOD(280.46061837 + 360.98564736629 * B3, 360) As I have dropped terms in the square and cube of the time, this formula will become less accurate over time. It is easy to make a graph showing the error using a spreadsheet. The full formula has been compared with ICE and agrees better than 0.00002 seconds. In 10 years, the approximation error will be 0.001 seconds. 30 years from now the error will still be better than 0.01 seconds. A century from now, the approximation error will be 0.1 seconds. However, 10 centuries from now the error will be 10 seconds.... Longer time reach ----------------- If you need to calculate accurate sidereal times for the historical past or far and optimistic future, then a term in the square of time can be introduced: GMST = 280.46061837 + 360.98564736629 * d + 0.000388 * t^2 Where d = days since J2000.0 as before t = julian centuries since J2000.0 = d / 36525 Errors through truncation with this formula amount to 0.008 seconds 1000 years into the future or past, and 0.0003 seconds 300 years into the future or past. With this kind of calculation, you must be very careful about time. The formulas here use UT, not dynamical time, known as TDT. Formulas used to predict the positions of planets, the Moon, eclipses and so on use TDT. In the current epoch, TDT - UT is about 65 seconds. That difference increases to 2 hours for 4000 BC. Values of 'delta T' (as the difference is known) for the far past can only be estimates based on historical observations (often of solar eclipses). Apparent sidereal time ---------------------- We take the mean sidereal time and add a correction in seconds to allow for the nutation and shift in the obliquity of the ecliptic that occurs as a result of the Moon's gravitational dance around the earth. First, the formulas, then the explanations. As before, take d as the days since J2000.0. t = d / 36525 GMST = 280.46061837 + 360.98564736629 * d as before. Now find (Meeus Ch21 approximate formulas) Om = 125.04452 - 1934.136261 * t L = 280.4665 + 36000.7698 * t L1 = 218.3165 + 481267.8813 * t e = 23.439 - 0.0000004 * t All of these quantities must be brought into the range 0 to 360 using the mod() function or similar. and then dp = -17.2*sin(Om) -1.32*sin(2*L) -0.23*sin(2*L1) +0.21*sin(2*Om) de = 9.2*cos(Om) +0.57*cos(2*L) + 0.1*cos(2*L1) -0.09 *cos(2*Om) e = eps + de The correction to GMST in seconds of time is given by correction = dp * cos(e) / 15 and so, in degrees correction = dp * cos(e) / 3600 Now for some explanations. Om is the longitude of the ascending node of the Moon's mean orbit ie the longitude when the Moon passes through the plane of the ecliptic, L is the mean longitude of the Sun, and L1 is the mean longitude of the Moon. eps is the mean obliquity of the ecliptic (the tilt of the Earth's rotation axis to the plane of the Earth-Sun orbit). This formula is a very basic linear approximation that is good for 50 years either side of J2000.0 dp is the change in the ecliptic longitude of a star due to the nutation, and de is the shift in angle between the ecliptic and equator. These angles measure the tugging of the Moon on the Earth and the way it modulates the slow drift of the Earth's axis due to precession. The formulas given above are good to about 0.5 arcsecond in dp and 0.1 arcsecond in de. This means roughly 0.5/15 seconds of time error or about 0.04 seconds of time either way at the absolute worst case. Using our example time of 1994 June 16 at 18h UT, we get GMST = 174.7711135 = 11h 39m 5.0672s Omega = 232.26266 Sun mean long = 84.77701 Moon mean long = 179.40773 d phi (arcsec) = 13.57090 d epsilon (arcsec) = -6.06879 true obliqity = 23.4398099 correction (secs) = 0.83007791 correction (degs) = 0.00346 apparent GST = 174.77457 = 11h 39m 5.8973s ICE gives Greenwich Sidereal Times Local Apparent Date Time Apparent Mean Sidereal Time Year Mon Da h m s h m s h m s h m s 1994 Jun 16 18 00 00 11 39 05.8974 11 39 05.0675 11 31 25.8894 Giving us an error of 0.0003s on the mean sidereal time and similar on the apparent sidereal time. We are using of approximate formulas for nutation, and the GAST might be in error by up to 0.04 seconds By the way, the days since J2000.0 used in the nutation formulas should, strictly speaking, be in Dynamical Time, not UT. As Meeus points out, the error introduced by using UT for short time spans is very very small. Looking at the date 2050 August 18th at 1800, we get GMST GAST ICE 15 49 11.5745 15 49 12.4165 Approximation 15 49 11.5506 15 49 12.4005 Error 0.0239 0.0160 To find local sidereal times, mean or apparent, simply add your longitude to the GST. Again, take longitude as positive East and negative to the West. GHA Aries --------- Navigators refer to the apparent GST for a given instant as the Greenwich Hour Angle of Aries (i.e. the First Point of Aries). The Nautical Almanac lists GHA Aries to 0.1 of an arcminute. This corresponds to 6 arcseconds or 6 / 15 = 0.4 seconds of time. The apparent GST here is accurate to about 0.1 second of time for the next 40 years or so (0.02s from the use of truncated formulas for mean GST and 0.08 seconds or so from the use of approximate nutation formulas). [ root ] ----------------------------------------------------------------- Keith Burnett (kburnett@btinternet.com) - 29 Jan 2002 -----------------------------------------------------------------