The issue of dates and times has long been one that concerned humans, first as we settled around our globe and later as we settled elsewhere.

Use of the Hijri calendar among observant Islamic colonists was particularly troublesome. As a lunisolar calendar, dependent on observations taken in Saudi Arabia, it had been difficult enough to communicate important dates like the Hajj when confined to a single world. Astronomical or algorithm-based methods of calculating dates had long been dismissed by leading theologians as illicit bid’ah.

But how to communicate this information across interstellar distances to the colony of New Mecca, 73 light-years from Earth? Divergent views have led to a wide variety of practices and even a few conflicts between groups of settlers whose imams issued differing jurisprudence on the matter. The issue of which direction to face during salat prayer is also thorny; whence lieth Mecca from New Mecca?

The issue of salat prayer was similar to that faced by Jewish colonists elsewhere in habitable space. When the Sabbath lasts from sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night, what is one to do on a ribbon world like Epsilon Gestae IV where there is eternal twilight, or one like Omicron Theta II where a day is longer than the year?

Difficulties such as those have seen a variety of creative solutions. The Helium-3 mining kibbutzes of NGC-3110, for instance, calculate their observances using a 24-hour cycle overlaid on the planet’s 97-hour night-day cycle with the colony ship’s landfall as their epoch. The Sunni solar harvesters of Feynman’s Star use a complicated algorithm to determine their calendar which is readjusted periodically after the arrival of more precise information from Earth.

But the Eastern Orthodox pilgrims who colonized Tsarzvezdan? The Traditionalist Catholics on Quartum Romae? The Baptist colonists, the Colonbaptists, who run the Christ the Redeemer Medical Center lightspeed emergency medical frigate?

They merely look to the stars for the one which shines brightest.

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