via Memory Alpha

Star Trek is an American science fiction media franchise. It was created and produced in the 1960s by Gene Roddenberry. No intentions of spoiling, Star Trek is about a crew of the starship USS Enterprise, whose five-year mission is to explore space.

The series takes place in the 23rd century, after a benign and advanced alien people, the Vulcans, has introduced their technologies to Earth. And we often hear the word “stardates”, with the intention of marking a futuristic date.

But, how do Star Trek stardates actually work? How do calculate the dates in Earth days? For instance, when they say Captain Picard’s birthday is 47457.1. Which date is it? Well, let’s get into this…


The Order Of The Episodes

via Memory Alpha

In the TV show, stardates are referred to as “bogus”. According to the Star Trek Guide: “Pick any combination of four numbers plus a percentage point, use it as your story’s stardate. For example, 1313.5 is twelve o’clock noon of one day and 1314.5 would be noon of the next day.”

But things aren’t as “easy” as they seem. Each percentage point is equivalent to one-tenth of one day. The creator, Gene stated that stardates are a mathematical formula that may vary according to the galaxy, velocity of travel, and other factors.

However, Gene confessed that the whole “location in the galaxy, the velocity of travel, and other factors” thing was a hedge to cover up the fact that the dates simply weren’t consistent to begin with because the episodes didn’t air in the same order they have filmed them.


The Formula Inconsistency

via Fotogramas

As the series continued to The Next Generation, dates and order got a bit more consistent. The show-runners planned a formula that would respond to continuity: “A stardate is a five-digit number followed by a decimal point and one more digit. Example: “41254.7.”

The first two digits of the stardate are always “41.” The 4 stands for 24th century, the 1 indicates the first season. The additional three leading digits will progress unevenly during the course of the season from 000 to 999. The digit following the decimal point is generally regarded as a day counter.

Unfortunately, when things were finally making sense, the stardates formula changed once again. In the reboot of the series, the stardate format was changed: “for example, 2233.45 or whatever means 23rd century, 33rd year of that century, and the .45 indicates the day of the year out of 365 days.”

So to make the long story short, there is no answer to how stardates work as they kept changing from season to season making it very inconsistent.

And, if you were wondering, Captain Picard’s birthday -stardate 47457.1- is either June 16th, November 4th, January 8th, or January 10th, depending on how you count.