Why some clocks will read 11:59:60 this New Year's Eve

Narjas Zatat@Narjas_Zatat
Thursday 29 December 2016 13:30
'Back to the Future' film - 1985(Universal/Everett/REX Shutterstock)

As if the year 2016 wasn’t bad enough, you might have to suffer through a whole extra second of it.

That's because the world will be experiencing a leap second on New Year's Eve - kind of like a leap year (which occurs every four years in order to keep the calendar year syncronised), only shorter..

If you live in the Western Hemisphere (Londoners, New Yorkers, you know who you are), you’ll have to wait an extra second before going in for that NYE kiss.

What fresh hell is this?

The fault lies with the Earth’s rotation. Our planet’s orbit around the sun is not actually a perfect circle – it’s more like an ellipse.

Additionally, a number of elements affect the shape of the Earth’s rotation, including tectonic shifts, ocean swells and even tides.

Taken together, this means that the Earth doesn’t maintain its constant speed at a perfect rate every day (or 24 hours).

Therefore, in order to remain as accurate as possible about time, these leap seconds are added.

There have been 26 leap seconds since 1972, and are inserted worldwide at the same moment.

If you live in Moscow, Tokyo or most of the Eastern Hemisphere, you’ll be happy to note that you will have an extra second of 2017. Don't waste it.

HT Quartz

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