December 1, 2020

Leap Year 2020: Why is there a leap day?

The year 2020 is a leap year and world is celebrating Leap Day that occurs every four years. After four years, The leap year exists because one extra day, taking the calendar from 365 days in a year to 366. Above extra day is what we call “Leap Day”. It also helps keep calendars in alignment with the Earth and sun.

As per study findings, A leap day occurs in years that are multiples of four or can be evenly divided by 400. The date, February 29, is added to most years that are divisible by 4, such as 2016, 2020, and 2024. The day is observed when the Earth’s revolution around the Sun takes approximately six hours longer than 365 whole days.

Moreover, A leap day is added in various solar calendars (calendars based on the Earth’s revolution around the Sun), including the Gregorian calendar standard in most of the world. Lunisolar calendars (months based on the phases of the Moon) instead add a leap or intercalary month.

As per history, The Month February used to have 30 days too but Caesar Augustus, the nephew of Julius Caesar, was not pleased with the fact that the month named after his uncle – July – had 31 days but August didn’t.

However, The concept of leap years can be traced all the way back to the Egyptians who had devised a solar calendar featuring 365 days with the insertion of a full ‘leap month’ when the astronomers observed the right conditions in the stars, Times of India Reported.

This arbitrary method of the ancients was carried forward till Julius Caesar got tired of it. Instead of depending on the stars, Julius Caesar simply added an extra day every four years to the Julian Calendar back in 46 BC on the advice of an Alexandrian astronomer named Sosigenes, it said.

The Julian Calendar which was the first to introduce a fixed leap day to manage the mismatch between the length of the actual year and the calendar year, came into effect from January 1, 45 BC.

In 1582, another mistake came to be noticed. This is because even though the Julian Calendar considered every solar year to be of 365.25 days, an actual solar year was 365.2422 days. So, taking one year as 365.25 days meant there was an extra 11 minutes..

Following the Gregorian calendar, here is a list of leap years since 1600:

1600 1604 1608 1612 1616 1620 1624 1628 1632 1636 1640 1644 1648 1652 1656 1660 1664 1668 1672 1676 1680 1684 1688 1692 1696 1704 1708 1712 1716 1720 1724 1728 1732 1736 1740 1744 1748 1752 1756 1760 1764 1768 1772 1776 1780 1784 1788 1792 1796 1804 1808 1812 1816 1820 1824 1828 1832 1836 1840 1844 1848 1852 1856 1860 1864 1868 1872 1876 1880 1884 1888 1892 1896 1904 1908 1912 1916 1920 1924 1928 1932 1936 1940 1944 1948 1952 1956 1960 1964 1968 1972 1976 1980 1984 1988 1992 1996 2000 2004 2008 2012 2016 2020 (29 Feb 2020).

According to the Julian calendar rule, any year that is divisible by 4 will be marked as a leap year. This is why February 29 occurs once in every 4 years. Apart from being a part of the Julian calendar, the leap year was a part of the ancient Hebrew, Buddhist and Chinese calendars.

The Chinese calendar is lunisolar, so a leap year has an extra month, often called an embolismic month after the Greek word for it. In the Chinese calendar the leap month is added according to a rule which ensures that month 11 is always the month that contains the northern winter solstice. These ancient calendars were lunisolar. It means that their dates indicated  the positions of both the Moon and Earth with respect to the Sun.

Today’s Google Doodle is dedicated to celebrating the Leap Day 2020. February 29 is known as leap day or leap year day as it arrives every four years. Google has put out a “jumps” doodle Saturday to mark the leap year day in 2020.

Despite all of this, In case there is no leap year and every calendar year has 365 days, it will go slower than the actual solar year. If there is no correction, the calendar year will be off by about one day after four years. After 100 years, it will be off by 25 days. Gradually, the gap will widen so much that February would turn into a harsh summer month.

(Author: Trilok Singh is with CEO here).


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