Extra Second Added To Saturday

You've heard of a leap year, where an extra day is put in to keep the calendar on track - well, this weekend will see a leap day.

One extra second will be added to the last minute of tomorrow, to compensate for the earth's lagging rotation.

The move will bring Earth into step with International Atomic Time (TAI), a weighted average of the time kept by hundreds of atomic clocks in more than 50 laboratories worldwide.

Atomic time, measured through vibrations of atoms in a metal isotope, is so accurate it can keep time to within a tenth of a billionth of a second per day.

It is used to synchronise navigation technology and telecommunications networks.

Noel Dimarcq, director of the SYRTE time-space reference system at the Paris Observatory said: "Today, time is constructed, defined and measured with atomic clocks."

He said the extra second would make sure everyone on earth was on the exact same time.

The planet takes just over 86,400 seconds for a 360 degree revolution.

But Earth wobbles on its axis and is slowing down on a miniscule level, due to the pull of the sun, moon and tides as well as the melting of polar ice and the moving molten core.

To avoid solar time and TAI moving too far apart, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) gives us occasional 86,401 - second days, including tomorrow, June 30.


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