Monday, June 24, 2024

What is a leap year? The science and history behind this phenomenon

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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Every year has 365 days. Well almost. Every four years (give or take), our calendars receive an extra day.

Known as “Leap Day”, February. 29 is added and it becomes the last day of the shortest month of the year. Aside from giving people an extra day to reach their goals, there is He is Some science on why there are leap days.

So, while you're making plans for this year's Leap Day, here's a quick guide on how to make it happen.

What is Leap Day?

A leap day occurs during a leap year, which is a year that contains “Time period listed“, according to Britannica.

Leap Day falls on February 29. February is usually the shortest month of the year, with 28 days. However, about once every four years, another date will be added to the calendar for the month.

Why is a leap day every four years?

The reason we have leap days and years is because of the Earth's orbit.

The number of days it takes the Earth to complete a full revolution around the Sun is not a whole number. The 365 days we live are in reality 365.2422 daysreports National Geographic.

Eliminate 0.2422 days more.

The break allows the seasons to line up correctly each year. If they are forgotten, the months we normally experience each season will change, according to National Geographic. This would affect other aspects of life, such as planting and harvesting crops.

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This is why leap years exist. When added up, four 0.2422 days equals almost a full day. February The number 29 is added to the calendar of most years that are divisible by four, including 2024.

Who made leap day?

The concept of adding leap days is not new It's been around since millennials, Britannica reports. Some calendars—such as the Hebrew, Chinese, and Buddhist calendars—contain leap months, also known as “leap months.”The intervening months“, according to the History Channel.

While Julius Caesar is often credited with creating leap days, he got the idea from the Egyptians. by 3rd century BCThe Egyptians followed a 365-day solar calendar, with a leap year every four years, National Geographic reports.

In ancient Rome, their calendar was varied and included a 23-day intervening month called “Mercedonius“But it wasn't a standalone month. Mercedonius was added to February to account for the difference between the Roman year and the solar year, according to the History Channel.

When creating the Julian calendar, Caesar was inspired by the Egyptians and decided to add an extra day to the month of February every four years. The Julian calendar has officially begun In January. 1 in 45 BC.

This method would continue over many centuries, but not without problem. Caesar's calculations of 365.25 days were closed, but it was not exactly the 365.2422 days contained in the solar year. To be precise, Caesar.”They overestimated the solar year by 11 minutes“, reports the History Channel. This means that the Julian calendar will be so One short day every 128 yearsaccording to National Geographic.

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By the sixteenth century, times had changed again, but not in a good way. Key dates have changed, including Easter. The holiday is supposed to occur on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. At that time, Easter was long past About 10 days.

To fix this, Pope Gregory XIII Introduced the Gregorian calendar, which kept a leap day every four years but eliminated it during centennial years not divisible by 400, according to the History Channel. this is the reason 1700, 1800 and 1900 They weren't leap years, but the year 2000 was.

Although accurate, the Gregorian calendar is not without flaws. Instead of stopping one day every 128 years like the Julian calendar, the Gregorian calendar It shortens once every 3030 yearsthe History Channel reports.

What happens if you are born on a leap day?

February 29 is the rarest birthday anyone can have. However, at least 5 million people celebrate their birthday on Leap Day, according to the History Channel. Your odds of being born on February 29 are One in 1,461.

Many “Leaplings” (or those born on a leap day) will celebrate their birthdays in February. 28 or March 1 during a typical 365-day year, although documents will reflect this as February 28. 29.

How common is your birthday? Check out the full list, plus unusual celebrity birthdays.

The next leap days

This year, 2024, is a leap year. Leap Day will fall on Thursday, February 22nd. 29.

The next leap years will be 2028, 2032 and 2036.

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