'Leap Second' to make New Year's Eve longest day of 2016

The leap second is needed as tides and weather patterns can alter what exactly a year is. If it is not made then every year, the atomic time would drift away from the time estimated due to the Earth's rotation.

The good news is, this keeps Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) aligned with the cosmos.

So chances are you'll be shouting 'Happy new year!' and clinking glasses a second too early.

Even so, unless you're paying extremely close attention, you likely won't notice the added second.

Counting down to 2017 will take longer than usual this New Year's Eve as clock experts compensate for a slowdown in the Earth's rotation.

Now, why is there a difference between atomic time and Earth's rotation?

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Universal Time, as this is called, is governed by the gravitational motions of the Earth, moon and sun but since the 1960s, time has been measured by atomic clocks that are independent of planetary motion. The federal government also accounts for leap seconds in its Global Positioning System navigation messages, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Meanwhile, the extra second will be added to the first day of 2017 for areas across the Eastern Hemisphere. Organizations writing timekeeping software ensure that the leap second doesn't cause any trouble to people.

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. Previous estimates reported Earth's rotation is actually slowing by two-thousandths of a second every day. This happens because the earth's rotations aren't regular, sometimes they speed up and sometimes they slow down. Ever since the setting up of the system, 26 leap seconds have been inserted at intervals of 6 months to 7 years; the last one was done last year, on June 30.

So when the clocks hit 23.59.59 on New Year's Eve in the United Kingdom, they will then move to 23.59.60 before moving on to 00.00.00 on January 1, 2017. In order to keep the two measuring systems in sync, leap seconds have been added starting with 1972.

When adding a second, it doesn't mean clocks move forward by a second.

  • Toni Ryan