(KTXL) – Ring in the Leap Year! That’s right, 2024 will see one additional day added to the month of February to maintain our common calendar over the years to come.
The United States, like much of the world, operates on the Gregorian Calendar that was introduced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582.
Unlike the Julian Calendar, that proceeded it by more than 1,600 years, the Gregorian Calendar established a leap rule that was more specific and detailed in order to prevent dates drifting.
The need for the extra day is due to the common calendar only having exactly 365 days.
The exact time it takes for the Earth to complete a full orbit of the sun is 365 day, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 56 seconds, according to the National Air and Space Museum.
With nearly six hours of extra time occurring each year, it threatens to cause a drift in calendar seasons.
“This would be annoying if not divesting, because over a period of about 700 years our summers, which we’ve come to expect in June in the northern hemisphere, would begin to occur in December,” the National Air and Space Museum writes.
So to prevent this date drift, the additional time is lumped into a neat 24 hour period and an additional day is added to the calendar every four years, problem solved.
However, this simple solution is what eventually led to the Julian Calendar seeing date drift due to the extra combined time not being an exact 24 hours.
In reality, it is more like 23.262222 hours, according to the National Air and Space Museum, leading to Pope Gregory XIII to devise a more accurate formula.
Now a leap year occurs every four years unless the centurial year is exactly divisible by 100, but not by 400, then the leap year is skipped.
In the last 400 years, 1700, 1800 and 1900 have been skipped as leap years and the next leap year to be skipped will be 2100.
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Author: Matthew Nobert