Time without nights

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Goldenrod111
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Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 08 Nov 2010 06:10

Hello, all! In the place of a more traditional introduction, I will ask about how time would be divided on a world without a day-night cycle, and maybe even any yearly patterns. I am (apparently) setting my story for NaNoWriMo on a planet tidally locked to a red dwarf, and, beyond the immense differences in climate and native life that would create, there will be no obvious cycles to base days or years on, and so the derivative time periods would also have trouble adapting. Some sort of system is needed, but would I have to base it on arbitrary periods (e.g. the time it takes to walk ___) or would the other planets in the system provide enough of a basis for division. Or would something else be best? And I'm sorry if this question has already been asked!

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Ossicone » 08 Nov 2010 06:16

So there are no regular cycles?
No tides, no stellar phenomena, no migrating animals, no weather patterns?

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Pe King » 08 Nov 2010 06:21

Try stars they always change. Maybe also other planets?
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 08 Nov 2010 06:36

Ossicone: I hadn't quite figured all of that out yet. I was thinking that migrations and other animal-based cycles would be according to species-specific clocks, and there would not be times when everyone was moving--it would be closer to something moving all the time. That might actually work for some cultures near large populations or large animals, but I don't think that it would be that easy to base it off the migration of the birds, say, when the hoofed mammals leave at a completely different time. Though I could still have the predators following the prey.

Weather patterns are a possibility, but I don't know of anything that would be periodic without being based on either orbits that are too elliptical for me to be comfortable with or planetary satellites. Unfortunately, moon orbits seem to disintegrate quickly at the distances required for a planet to be in the habitable zone of a red dwarf. Unless there was some way for neighboring planets to pull strongly enough, there would not be noticeable tides.

I was thinking about relating it somehow to the other planets in the system, but I wasn't sure if that idea was viable or not. I hadn't even considered the other stars, Pe King, but they would provide a nice year. Thanks! That should give me a nice place to jump off from. (I got the notification for your post as I was finishing this.)

Next question: How would I refer to "days" when there is not even any set sleep cycle? I have had some trouble working around things like "tomorrow" that could refer to very different things to different people.

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 08 Nov 2010 06:42

But would they be able to see the stars during the day? I doubt they'd always be on the night side as that side would always get a torrential downpour. Do they live on the outer ring in the "twilight zone?" Such a close planet would likely have a very fast orbital period. What's the size of your parent star? For a Red Dwarf of 0.35 solar masses (quite typical for a star of its kind I think) it'd take only 27 days for a planet at ideal (in the sense of human habitability) distance to revolve around the star. What's the planet's axial tilt? Or perhaps it's very eccentric, causing it to drift to the innards and outers of the habitable zone during its orbit (it'd need an eccentricity of about 0.14 to get this effect), making huge temperature swings very quickly but still remaining suitable for liquid water at all times. Perhaps you conpeople could judge time by these temperature swings?
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 08 Nov 2010 06:57

They are on the very edge of twilight; I think their position would result in a red dwarf low on the horizon, and not quite powerful enough to overpower the stars opposite it, but I am definitely no expert in astronomical dynamics. I was considering having a slight tilt to its axis, but wouldn't that eventually disappear as the energy used to rotate it slightly up and down with respect to the star was expended (there is an article here that discusses this as it relates to moons). I was thinking of values along those lines as well, but wasn't sure that the distance covered by the habitable zone would be large enough to cause enough of a temperature difference to allow for easy timekeeping. Do you have any way to predict the temperatures caused by an eccentricity like that? I might not use something quite that large, but that might be a good way to do it. Thanks!

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 08 Nov 2010 07:05

I like this page for doing these kinds of calculations. While the calculators there are nowhere close to comprehensive (how close can my moon orbit before gravity crashes it to smithereens? I always wanted a conplanet with a huge, romantic moon ;-;) they're very, very useful. As for your specific question, I don't know enough about your conplanet (what's its size? atmospheric composition?) to judge the temperatures accurately of the human settlements on the twilight, but with the parameters I described earlier your conplanet will have a maximum insolation of 1.3520929624075375 and a minimum of 0.7694736495818825. (The insolation numbers is basically how much sunlight is hitting the surface, not accounting for atmospheric concerns. A higher number than 1 means more light than Earth's average, a lower number means less. Average temperature over the surface of the earth is I think 55 F so a rough estimate of temperature ranges will be about 42 to 74 degrees judging by insolation alone. At the twilight it will probably be colder, with weather patterns and latitude having an even more drastic effect on temperature.)
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Pe King » 08 Nov 2010 08:47

Maybe small migrations if it has a "twilight zone". These migrations would move in and out where people would go a few miles every week to get day and night. People towards the sunnier part would grow crops and the people would go to the darker side for sea animals. The idea with the sea creatures being that the water would be on the dark side of the planet. So fishers and farmers. The atmosphere would move around the planet often in order for enough rain to fall. Also since the agricultural zone would be thin, irrigation ditches could be everywhere. Plant growth might be a problem due to the lack of direct sunlight. Only a small population would be able to survive.
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Tanni » 08 Nov 2010 15:39

Goldenrod111 wrote:Ossicone: I hadn't quite figured all of that out yet. I was thinking that migrations and other animal-based cycles would be according to species-specific clocks
If there's no periodic phenomenon on the planet, I doubt that it will be in animals. (If life at all is possible without periodic phenomena.) But if life showed up before the planet got tidally locked, they could have developed some species-specific clocks, of course.

If you need time, let your conpeople discover something like a pendulum and have their culture based on that. (There could be a group of ''time providers''.) Or they could use hour classes or mesure time by the turns of some animals drawing water out of a well with some mechanism. (If it's an ancient society, they will not need accurate time measurement.)

You can have periodic phenomena if the sun itself causes periodic changes in its brightness, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variable_star. This will have an effect on the photosynthesis of plants. For your purpose, an intrinsic variable would suit best. Note that, if the star swells and shrinks, this could also have an influence on the planet. You maybe could get changes in its orbit or the interiour of the planet get kneaded maybe causing periodical earthquackes or vulkanism.

If it's a science fiction setting, you could get what you need by inventing an entirely independent periodical phenomen, e.g. by using something like hyper energy. (In a SF novel series I use to read, every star also is a source of hyper energy.) In a novel you don't need an exact physical explanation to all and everything anyway.
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Re: Time without nights

Post by xijlwya » 08 Nov 2010 19:00

Even though the stars may not be visible in the twilight zone, other planets still will be. In the town where I live I can seen almost no stars due to atmospheric reflection. But whenever a planet stands high in the sky it is clearly visible. So, if there are any other planets revolving around your little red dwarf, they may be used for time measurements.
Additionally, with an orbit elliptical enough, you could see the central star become bigger and smaller as the planets reaches its minimum or maximum in distance. Though I don't know how strong the effect would be. It may also be rather harming to observe the star for too long.

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 08 Nov 2010 19:41

As habitable planets around a red dwarf would be very close to their parent stars, the star would always appear to be very large in the sky. A change in size would occur with a highly eccentric orbit, however the habitable zone around such dim stars is very small so you could not get a very dramatic change and still allow the planet to hold liquid water. As I already suggested, temperature with an eccentric orbit would be far easier to work in.
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 09 Nov 2010 01:43

Tanni: I was imagining something like a migration from feeding grounds at one temperature to breeding grounds at another, and almost everything that moved like that would time it so they were all traveling at the same time. I don't need anything as exact as a pendulum, I was just trying to find a replacement to our "day." And I find the idea of a variable star intriguing, but impractical. It would have too many repercussions on the other aspects of my system. Thanks for the suggestions, though!

xijlwya: I am planning to have a few other planets in the system, but I do not think that they will be able to create as nice of a calendar as an elliptical orbit.

Micamo: I, too, like the idea of a temperature-based time cycle. I might use a smaller eccentricity than you gave (I do not need quite that variation in temperature), but I will experiment with those calculators. I still have a few questions, though. First, the hot-cold-hot cycle would repeat twice in one complete rotation, correct? And would I plug the temperature value that I get from the insolation into "T" in the first figure in this document? And thank you for everything you have helped with already!

I apoligize that I didn't respond sooner, but I had to get to sleep last night, and I had school all day today. This is the first chance I have had to read this.

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 09 Nov 2010 02:38

In the paper, T=1 is the insolation at the maximal point, which is the part of the planet that's always closest to the sun due to tidal locking. The distribution it describes is how this insolation falls off as you move away from this maximum point on the planet's surface. Actual temperature is determined by many other factors such as planetary composition and atmospheric patterns. Darker materials reflect less light (and thus turn more of it into heat) so a planet with a black surface will have a higher temperature than a white one even if they have the same insolation. Greenhouse effects can also raise temperatures significantly, and weather patterns can bring chilled air from the less-insolated regions into the more-insolated ones, and vice-versa.
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 09 Nov 2010 03:22

Thanks! I guess I should read the text surrounding images more carefully. :oops: Thanks for putting up with me!

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 09 Nov 2010 03:33

Not a problem at all: Honestly I think you know more on this subject than I do.
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 09 Nov 2010 03:41

Its all a lot of crazy notions based on secondhand research and created for specific circumstances. There might be some truth it them, but I am far from an expert. Really, I think you know more about this than I do. Though if it will make you happier, we can say that each of us have our own specialties. I will still insist that yours is more practical for a wider variety of topics, though!

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 09 Nov 2010 04:05

Goldenrod111 wrote:Its all a lot of crazy notions based on secondhand research and created for specific circumstances.
So's mine <.<
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 09 Nov 2010 04:33

Well, they are still circumstances that are able to be applied to a wider variety of situations.

I am afraid that this thread is getting slightly off-topic. We can definitely continue this discussion, but I would like to warn anyone reading through this that there is likely going to be nothing of interest any farther down (if there is a long list of posts past this; it is equally likely to run down in one or two more sentences). Thanks to everyone who helped me figure this out!

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Re: Time without nights

Post by Micamo » 09 Nov 2010 05:06

I always wanted to put a conworld around one of the big, pretty blue ones. However they don't live long enough for life to evolve, and emit most of their light in the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. Still though, it'd be a nice place for a sci-fi conpeople to terraform and settle down on.
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Re: Time without nights

Post by Goldenrod111 » 09 Nov 2010 05:16

That would be fun. I'm going (as I said) with a small, dull red one. While it removes the challenge of a short lifetime, it poses its own difficulties, mainly with low energy output. It will be quite fun to see how this planet develops. After this month. For now, it is just get as much down as possible. Discrepancies can be dealt with later. I guess that could be seen as a shortfall of the NaNoWriMo writing style. At least it might allow me to finish this book!

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