NEW! Astronomical Almanac for the Year 2023

March 23, 2023

Calling all astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts! The Astronomical Almanac for the Year 2023 is now available from the U.S Government Bookstore.

The Astronomical Almanac contains a wide variety of both technical and general astronomical information. It is published jointly by the U.S. Nautical Almanac Office at the U.S. Naval Observatory and Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office in the UK, and contains data supplied by many scientists from around the world.

A brief overview of the data available within this yearly updated astronomical resource includes:

  • Phenomena – information on the seasons, phases of the Moon, configurations of the planets, eclipses, etc.                     
  • Time-Scales and Coordinate Systems – calendar information, relationships between time scales, universal, and, sidereal times, Earth rotation angle,
  • Sun – Moon – Planetsdetailed positional information,
  • Stars and Stellar Systemsmean places for bright stars, double stars, UBVRI standards,
  • Tables and DataJulian dates, selected astronomical constants, relations between time scales.

The Astronomical Almanac is a great resource for commercial as well as the military to strengthen safer travel and further assist in navigation by both air and sea.

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About the author: Blogger contributor Ed Kessler is a Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publications and Information Sales Office.

Images and additional content provided by Government Book Talk Editor Trudy Hawkins. Trudy is the Senior Marketing & Promotions Specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Office supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (

Navigating by the Moon, Planets, and Stars

May 14, 2010

The Nautical Almanac is one of the longest-running publications in the Federal Government, dating back to 1852. It’s also one of the most distinctive-looking books I’ve ever seen.  The covers are orange and made of a stiff board-like material, and the cover graphics certainly look like they date back to 1852. Between those covers lie the complex mathematical tables that, “along with the chronometer, the sextant, a steady hand and a keen eye, are the resources needed to navigate by the stars.” Honestly, the contents mean less than nothing to a non-math person, but what images they conjure up for a history person! Old salts striding across a ship’s deck, sextant in hand, getting ready to round the Horn – well, you get the idea.

The Almanac is a unique example of a Government publication produced by two countries – the United States Naval Observatory (USNO) and Her Majesty’s Nautical Almanac Office (HNMAO). Also unique is that the U.S. part of the Almanac is in the public domain, but the British part is under Crown Copyright.

The Nautical Almanac is one of a number of almanacs published by the U.S. Naval Observatory: the Astronomical Almanac, the Air Almanac, and Astronomical Phenomena. Together, they provide a corpus of navigational knowledge that spans the centuries but is still the ultimate backup to the GPS technology of today.

I wonder if they’ll ever change those orange covers?

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