So I understand how gas giants and their many, many moons operate, and I can make educated guesses about how Earth-sized satellites could orbit a large gas giant, as well as how gas giants can be in the habitable zone. What I'm curious about is developing a civilization.

Suppose an intelligent species (let's say humans, to make things simple) originates on the moon of a gas giant planet. The moon has slightly more land than sea (about 40/60, compared to Earth's 70/30), and has an orbit which keeps it within the habitable zone, albeit with some pretty extreme seasons.
Some of the key aspects I'm trying to figure out are time-keeping (calendars) and cosmology. Could a civilization recognize that their world goes around another world which goes around the sun? How would the night sky behave in general; could it lead to cosmology or astronomy discoveries similar to ours?

If I can understand how our calendars arose, it may give insight as to what to expect on a system with a more complicated sky.

I'm willing to provide more details on the world I'm developing, if it helps. Just let me know. Any ideas you all' ready willing to provide are appreciated.

  • $\begingroup$ Reminder to close-voters... $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:13
  • $\begingroup$ That being said, asking a question about how the entirety of a society would change tends to be a big question. The smallest change can have far-reaching consequences. Exactly what would change would depend on how each person views the problem. The way I see it, this question is both broad and steeped in opinion. I would suggest limiting from all of society to the 1-3 fields you're really interested in. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to re-open. This isn't so much as opinon based, as brainstorming for ideas. Not a bad thing for this group. $\endgroup$ Jul 3, 2019 at 12:53
  • $\begingroup$ @SherwoodBotsford: Brainstorming for ideas is exactly what "opinion based" means. $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Jul 3, 2019 at 13:04
  • $\begingroup$ This is much less opinion oriented, but now it's two seperate questions "How do calendar systems arise?" and "How would this affect a civilization's time-keeping if originating on the moon of a gas giant?" There are already questions on WB about how calendar systems arise and we tend to discourage asking multiple questions in one here; so, try to just focus on how calendar systems would arise on such a world, and I think this question will be good to reopen. $\endgroup$
    – Nosajimiki
    Jul 3, 2019 at 14:01

1 Answer 1


Way of Life

A civilization's way of life is dependent mainly on the area surrounding them. The face of the moon would also affect their way of life. Does the surface have many continents? Or is it mainly archipelago? How does the continents looks like? Vast plains? Or mountainous? What is the surfaces temperature? Does it have many tundra? Or desert? See, many factor would affect a civilization's way of life.

Based on our Earth, mountainous region would have many farms due to its fertile lands. Archipelago would depend on the sea as their main source of food. Vast plains means it is susceptible to typhoon and tornado, like America. Since the moon has more land than water, then it would have more desert since the rainfall should be lower than Earth.

Time and Cosmology

The gas giant is the most visible thing they can see on the sky. If they are tidal locking (the moon and the gas giant) then your people would be aware that the land they are on are rotating.

One of the key aspect that caused people in the olden times believe that the Earth was the center and that the sun and other sky objects revolves around the Earth was because they all seems smaller than the Earth. Due to the size of the gas giant, your people would be aware that they are revolves around it. They would believe that the center of the universe is the gas giant, that all things revolves around it.

Thus a year would be the time needed for the moon to finish revolving around the gas giant. Day would be the time where there is sunlight, night would be where there is no sunlight. Also, depending on the composition of the gas in the gas giant, it might be very bright at night due to the gas giant reflecting the sun's light.


Since the moon orbit a gas giant and thus would sometimes have no access to direct sunlight due to the gas giant blocking it, they might develop belief on dark deity that caused the world to be engulfed in darkness for some days/months/years, depending on its revolution angle relative to the gas giant. Since the gas giant is also the biggest thing on the sky, they would also worship it.

As science progress, they would develop more awareness of their home world. Some of the scientist might get persecuted for their discovery.

You might also want to read this.


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