THE CALCULATIONS THAT LEAVE US IN NEED OF AN EXTRA DAY Why Do We Need a Leap Year?
Every four years, February gains an extra day at the end of the month. But what does this contribute to the year as a whole? You might be surprised by what this one day does for us! The 365 days in each year represent the time it takes for the Earth to circle the sun. However, the orbit actually takes nearly a quarter of a day longer than that. The additional 0.2421 of a day might not seem like it would make a significant impact, but after a few decades, it adds up. To ensure the calendar and seasons stay on the right timeline, the leap day was created.
However, the Julian Calendar wasn’t perfect, because 0.2421 of a day can’t be rounded to a multiple of five, so it caused the calendar to have an extra 11 minutes every four years. Pope Gregory XIII fixed the problem in 1582 by creating the Gregorian Calendar. Now, a leap year occurs every four years except for the years that are evenly divisible by 100 and not 400. For instance, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years because they were divisible by 100. A LEAP DAY BIRTHDAY The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are about 1 in 1,500, which leaves approximately 187,000 people in the U.S. and 4 million people around the world celebrating their birthdays on Feb. 28 or March 1. People born on a Leap Day are faced with dilemmas such as which date they should receive their driver’s license. Although it varies from state to state, most consider March 1 the appropriate day for leap-year 16-year-olds — who are celebrating their fourth “official” birthday — to receive their license. With all the changes the calendar has undergone, it still isn’t quite perfect. Experts say that in about 10,000 years, it will need to be changed yet again. The next leap year occurs in 2020.
THE START OF THE LEAP YEAR The Egyptians were the first to officially calculate how many days it takes to orbit the sun, revealing the need for a leap year. Europeans at the time used a calendar that followed a lunar model, which needed an entire month added to retain consistency. The leap year wasn’t introduced into Europe until the reign of Julius Caesar. With the help of astronomer Sosigenes, Caesar created the Julian Calendar, which included 12 months and 365 days, with a single day added every fourth year.
WHAT DO YOU REALLY KNOWABOUT GROUNDHOG DAY? 3 Myths About Our Favorite Furry Meteorologist
MYTH 3: PHIL IS THE ONLY FAMOUS RODENT.
While most, if not all, meteorologists place little value on a furry marmot’s ability to predict an early spring, the annual tradition of Groundhog Day is still one that millions of people love to celebrate. Because it is based more on folkloric legend than scientific evidence, Groundhog Day is associated with shams and spoofs of varying degrees. There are many myths regarding the tradition as well as the famous Punxsutawney Phil himself. MYTH 1: THE PREDICTIONS ARE ACCURATE. Many event-goers put a lot of faith in Punxsutawney Phil’s predictions. Unfortunately, he is more likely to be wrong than right. According to studies based on Phil’s predictions and the weather patterns that follow, it seems Phil’s predictions receive an accuracy rate of only 39 percent. MYTH 2: GROUNDHOG DAY IS HARMLESS. Much like humans, most groundhogs don’t like being suddenly jostled out of their sleep. Their frustration often leads to them biting their handlers. For this reason, the handlers usually wear heavy gloves to protect themselves. However, that isn't always enough of a precaution to ensure everyone's safety. In 2009, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was bitten through his glove, and subsequent Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped his groundhog in 2014.
While Phil is probably the most well-known ground- dwelling meteorologist, he is not the only groundhog with weather predicting abilities. For example, General Beauregard Lee is the weather predictor for the city of Lilburn, Georgia. Staten Island Chuck takes
care of the New York territory, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, has three groundhogs of its own, which is probably due to its rich Pennsylvania Dutch history. Canada has even started a Groundhog Day tradition with Shubenacadie Sam in Nova Scotia and Balzac Billy in Alberta. Even though Groundhog Day is a holiday based on many myths, it still provides a great time for event-goers all across the world. You might not be able to fully trust Phil’s predictions, but the superstition and mystique associated with this unique and festive day make it one you shouldn’t skip out on.
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