A Leap Second Will Be Added To The 31st Night Of 2016

What's the reason for the leap second? While many astronomical events such as eclipses and meteor showers can be predicted centuries in advance, leap seconds cannot.

The change will happen all over the world at exactly the same time, so, for example, on the east coast of the United States of America it will happen at 18.59.59 and at 15.59.59 for those on the other side of the US.

So chances are you'll be shouting 'Happy new year!' and clinking glasses a second too early. People can't do much within this time frame but why bother extending the time with an additional second?

NASA will implement the additional second just before midnight Coordinated Universal Time on December 31, 2016 to account for Earth's slowing rotation and allow precise timekeeping for its Solar Dynamics Observatory program. This is essentially UTC without any leap seconds thrown in.

An extra second, or leap second, is being added on December 31 in order to keep the timescale based on atomic clocks in sync with time based on the Earth's rotation.

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Some of those sites have since followed Google's lead by adding milliseconds every hour on the day the leap second is set to take place. Main key factor for slowing down the Earth's rotation is the gravitational Earth-braking forces by the Moon, that gives high rise to ocean tides. In Utah, the extra second will occur at 4:59:59 p.m. MST Saturday.

A leap second has been added on numerous times since 1972 Why do we do it?

The last time a leap second was added was on 30 June 2015. Leap seconds are added when UTC is ahead of UT1 (astronomical or universal time) by 0.4 seconds or more. Many believe that the earth's rotation is slowing down whereas no such thing is happening. 2016's final minute will be exactly one second longer than every other minute of the year, and it's all due to the speed of Earth's rotation not lining up perfectly with the ridiculously accurate atomic clocks that timekeepers use to tally every passing second.

It's also possible for seconds to be removed, but this has never happened.

So, I only say 2016 was a disgusting year because I think that every year is a terrible year, but this year was notable in that everyone else thought it was frightful, too.

  • Douglas Reid