millennium

At the turn of the last millennium, much ink and chatter was spent on whether the first day of the new millenium was 1 January 2000 or 1 January 2001. The problem arises because Denis the Short did not allow for a year zero in defining the Christian era. Some eras, such as the Mayan, do have a year zero.

Proponents of 2000 point out that people observed the beginning of the second millennium in 1000, and that will be 1000 years ago in 2000.  One way of looking at it is to say the first millenium, uniquely, had only 999 years.  And, in fact, many people did celebrate the new millennium in 2000. Round numbers have great appeal; who cares when the odometer rolls over to 100,001? (But odometers, of course, do have an 000,000 setting.)

Others insist on 1000 years to each millennium. In 1996, the Royal Greenwich Observatory (Cambridge, England) issued a report stating that the first day of the third (or second, if 1 through 1000 was the zeroth millennium) millenium would be 1 January 2001. The U.S. Naval Observatory, the official timekeeper for the United States, held the same view.

The Naval Observatory also calculated where the first dawn of the new millenium would occur:

In the United States (excluding territories in the Pacific), the first dawn of the new millenium will be visible from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Maine (44° 21′ north 67° 0′ west), at 7:04 EST.

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