Sunday, December 25, 2005

2005 to Last One Second Longer

Certainly most everyone is familiar with the leap year concept. It's where we get those strange but entertaining February 29th's every four years or thereabouts, intended to make our 365 day calendar match more closely the roughly 365.25 days it actually takes for the Earth to rotate around the sun. And by the way, the next leap year will occur in 2008.

An occurence you may not be aware of however is the leap second. It is a correction made to the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to bring it into closer alignment with astronomical time. Plainly speaking, this is to make clocks on Earth synchronize as closely as possible with the planet's rotation. And it so happens that there is an entire organization devoted to coordinating all of this synchronization, the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, or IERS.

The first leap second in seven years will occur on this coming New Year's Eve, 2005. All atomic clocks will be ordered to read 23:59:60 before rolling over to 00:00:00 to begin January 1st, 2006. Do not be alarmed though, this will not require the setting forward of your clocks, unless you happen to have an atomic clock set up in your basement...

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