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The JULDAY function calculates the Julian Date (which begins at noon) for the specified date. This is the inverse of the CALDAT procedure.


  • The Julian calendar, established by Julius Caesar in the year 45 BCE, was corrected by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582, excising ten days from the calendar. For dates after 4 October 1582, the calendar specifies that every 4 years is a leap year, except if the year ends in a "00" then it is not a leap year, unless it is also divisible by 400 (in which case it is a leap year).
  • There is no year 0 in the calendar as defined by IDL. Instead, year 1 CE is immediately preceded by year 1 BCE. This means that leap years are offset by 1. For example, -1, -5, -9, -13, etc. are all leap years.
  • The Julian Date is typically used by astronomers. For other research areas, you may need to use the proleptic Gregorian calendar system, especially for dates before 1582. In this case you should use the GREG2JUL and JUL2GREG routines instead.
  • The JULDAY function should only be used with CALDAT. Similarly, the GREG2JUL function should only be used with the JUL2GREG procedure. For dates between 1 Jan CE and 15 Oct 1582 the two calendar systems differ by up to 10 days. For dates on or after 15 Oct 1582 the two calendar systems are identical.
  • Calendar dates must be in the range 1 Jan 4800 BCE to 31 Dec 5000000, which corresponds to Julian values -31776 and 1827933925, respectively.
  • A small offset is added to the returned Julian date to eliminate roundoff errors when calculating the day fraction from hours, minutes, seconds. This offset is given by the larger of EPS and EPS*Julian, where Julian is the integer portion of the Julian date, and EPS is the EPS field from MACHAR (using double precision). For typical Julian dates, this offset is approximately 6x10–10 (which corresponds to 5x10–5 seconds). This offset ensures that if the Julian date is converted back to hour, minute, and second, then the hour, minute, and second will have the same integer values as were originally input.
  • This routine is written in the IDL language. Its source code can be found in the file julday.pro in the lib subdirectory of the IDL distribution.


In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII adjusted the Julian calendar to correct for its inaccuracy of slightly more than 11 minutes per year. As a result, the day following October 4, 1582 was October 15, 1582. JULDAY follows this convention, as illustrated by the following commands:

PRINT, JULDAY(10,4,1582), JULDAY(10,5,1582), JULDAY(10,15,1582)

IDL prints:

2299160    2299161    2299161

Using arrays, this can also be calculated as follows:

PRINT, JULDAY(10, [4, 5, 15], 1582)

If you are using JULDAY to calculate an absolute number of days elapsed, be sure to account for the Gregorian adjustment.


Result = JULDAY(Month, Day, Year, Hour, Minute, Second)

Return Value

Result is of type double-precision if Hour, Minute, or Second is specified, otherwise Result is of type long integer. If all arguments are scalar, the function returns a scalar. If all arguments are arrays, the function matches up the corresponding elements of the arrays, returning an array with the same dimensions as the smallest array. If the inputs contain both scalars and arrays, the function uses the scalar value with each element of the arrays, and returns an array with the same dimensions as the smallest input array.


If no arguments are given then the Julian date corresponding to the current system time is returned.


Number of the desired month (1 = January, ..., 12 = December). Month can be either a scalar or an array.


Number of the day of the month (1-31). Day can be either a scalar or an array.


Number of the desired year (e.g., 1994). Year can be either a scalar or an array.


Number of the hour of the day (0-23). Hour can be either a scalar or an array.


Number of the minute of the hour (0-59). Minute can be either a scalar or an array.


Number of the second of the minute (0-59). Second can be either a scalar or an array.

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