Fun Fact February 28, 2020
28 February 2020
Normally this would be the last day of February, but not this year. This is a leap year. Leap days keep our modern-day Gregorian calendar in alignment with Earth’s revolutions around the Sun. It takes Earth approximately 365.242189 days, or 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 45 seconds, to circle once around the Sun. This is called a tropical year, and it starts on the March equinox. However, the Gregorian calendar has only 365 days in a year. If we didn’t add a leap day on February 29 almost every four years, each calendar year would begin about 6 hours before the Earth completes its revolution around the Sun As a consequence, our time reckoning would slowly drift apart from the tropical year and get increasingly out of sync with the seasons. With a deviation of approximately 6 hours per year, the seasons would shift by about 24 calendar days within 100 years. Allow this to happen for a while, and Northern Hemisphere dwellers will be celebrating Christmas in the middle of summer in a matter of a few centuries. Leap days fix that error by giving Earth the additional time it needs to complete a full circle around the Sun. Every now and then, a leap second is added to Coordinated Universal Time, UTC, in order to synchronize clocks worldwide with the Earth’s ever slowing rotation. The next leap second won’t be added until December of this year, if necessary.