Galactic Time

Curio & Co. looks at the complicated timekeeping of science fiction futures, especially the Star Years of classic 1960s animated series Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures. Image courtesy of Curio and Co.

Meeting with a species from another planet starts to get tricky when it’s time to synchronize your watches.

The dates in Spaceman Jax’s world are complicated and unwieldy. Spaceman Jax was born in 6324 1/2, Tarloc was born in 6298 3/5 and he started his first company in 6304 1/9… which I guess would be 20.3888888889 years before Jax was born? Putting the dates in fractions – and such ridiculous ones at that (a 17th of a year?) is pretty funny, but I certainly hope that once our society gets that far into the future, we’ll be using an easier form of timekeeping.

Science Fiction doesn’t seem to see it that way, though. Tales of other galaxies and inter-planetary communities are filled with Metric Time or Universal Universe Time or Megaseconds, which could really leave you hanging when someone tells you “just a second.” Men in Black uses a Galactic Standard Week, which is an hour of our time, and the Star Wars universe keeps time from the 368-day calendar of the planet Coruscant. Even Star Trek’s stardate system is pretty inconsistent – something to do with time dilation (or so Mr. Spock says). All of which starts to make Spaceman Jax’s Star Years (such as 6348 7/8, the year his home planet Tiberion 3 was destroyed) seem pretty standard, I guess.

Still, I hope we have something worked out by the time we get together with the Little Green Men of our own solar system. Considering that a day on Mercury is about 59 days on Earth, scheduling the committee meetings alone will be a mess.