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Definition: Julian date

A calendar notation in which the date is represented by one number. For example, the Julian date for December 11, 1942 is 2430705; while December 12, 1942 is 2430706. The Julian date is widely used with computers because it requires less programming to compare dates that are single integers. Julian numbers are also used within a single year; for example, February 1 is Julian 32.

Developed in the 16th century by Joseph Scaliger, the numbers were based on a 7,980-year cycle that began on January 1, 4713 BC and ends January 22, 3268. Contrast with "Gregorian date," which is the common calendar notation of month, day and year.