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What is a leap year and why do we have them?

February gets an extra day in 2024.

A leap year happens nearly every four years.

That’s because it takes the Earth 365.242190 days to orbit the Sun, or 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes and 56 seconds.

The extra 5 hours 48 minutes and 56 seconds needs to be accounted for somehow.

The 366th day is added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical year or seasonal year.

Contents
  1. Are leap years every four years?
  2. What would happen if we didn’t have leap years?
  3. Leap year birthdays: Celebrities born on Feb. 29
  4. What famous events happened on Feb. 29?
  5. How did leap years start?
  6. Do other planets have leap years?
  7. “Leap Year” movie released in 2010

Are leap years every four years?

Adding a fourth day every four years, adds an extra 44-plus minutes to the annual total. Over time, that would also cause the seasons to drift.

For this reason, not every four years is a leap year.

The rule is that if the year is divisible by 100 and not 400, the leap year is skipped. For example, the year 2000 was a leap year, but the year 1900 was not.

After this year, 2028, 2032 and 2036 are all leap years.The year 2100 is the next time a leap year will be skipped.

What would happen if we didn’t have leap years?

If we didn’t account for the extra time, the seasons would begin to drift. For example, over a period of about 700 years, summers — which begin in June in the northern hemisphere — would occur in December.

Leap year birthday: When do people celebrate if they were born on Feb. 29?

If you were born on a leap day, it doesn’t mean you only celebrate once every four years. Legally, you celebrate your birthday on March 1 on non-leap years and continue to grow old like the rest of humanity.

Leap year birthdays: Celebrities born on Feb. 29

Rapper Ja Rule (Feb. 29, 1976), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star Peter Scanavino (Feb. 29, 1980), NBA player Tyrese Haliburton (Feb. 29, 2000), motivational speaker Tony Robbins (Feb. 29, 1960) and Foster the People lead singer Mark Foster (Feb. 29, 1984) are among the celebrities with a Feb. 29 birthday.

The odds of being born on Feb. 29 are about one in 1,461.

What famous events happened on Feb. 29?

The FactSite.com lists several memorable events that happened on Feb. 29 in history.

In 2020, Joe Biden won the South Carolina primary election on his way to becoming president.

In 1996, the longest siege of a capital city in modern history officially ended. The city of Sarajevo, the capital of the newly independent Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, came under siege on April 5, 1992, from the Bosnian Serb Army. More than 13,000 people were killed, including more than 5,000 civilians.

In 1988, Svend Robinson became the first openly gay member of Parliament in Canada.

In 1960, the first Playboy Club opened in Chicago. It was known as the Playboy Key Club.

In 1960, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake in Agadir, Morocco, wiped out one-third of the city’s population. It caused around 15,000 deaths.

In 1960, “The Family Circus” comic strip by Bill Keane made its debut.

In 1940, Hattie McDaniel won best supporting actress for her role in “Gone With the Wind.” It marked the first time a Black woman won an Oscar.

In 1908, a Dutch scientist named Heike Kamerlingh Onnes announced he was able to create solid helium.

In 1692, the first warrants were issued to arrest three women accused of witchcraft in Salem Massachusetts.

In 1504, a lunar eclipse saved Christopher Columbus’ life. Columbus had an almanac with information about celestial events and knew a total lunar eclipse was coming. He used that knowledge to tell Native Americans that God was angry with how they were treating Columbus and his crew. He said the Moon would appear “inflamed in wrath.” When the lunar eclipse appeared, the Native Americans people “came running from every direction to the ships, laden with provisions,” according to Columbus’ son Ferdinand.

How did leap years start?

Julius Caesar re-ordered the Roman calendar, according to History.com.

The site states that during his time in Egypt, Caesar became convinced of the superiority of the Egyptian solar calendar. It featured 365 days and an occasional intercalary month, which was inserted when astronomers observed the correct conditions in the stars.

Caesar and the philosopher Sosigenes of Alexandria made an important modification: Instead of relying on the stars, they would simply add a day to every fourth year.

In keeping with the Roman tradition of messing with the length of February, that day would fall in the second month of the year—thus Leap Day was born. Caesar added two extra-long months to the year 46 B.C.E. to make up for missed intercalations, and the Julian Calendar took effect on Jan. 1, 45 B.C.E.

By the 16th century, scholars had noticed that time was still slipping—Caesar’s calculation that a year lasted 365.25 days was close, but still overestimated the solar year by 11 minutes.

It was a problem for the Catholic Church, as the date of Easter had drifted away from its traditional place, the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox, by about 10 days. Pope Gregory XIII commissioned a modified calendar, one which kept Leap Day but accounted for the inaccuracy by eliminating it on centurial years not divisible by 400.

That marked the last change to the Western calendar as we know it today.

Do other planets have leap years?

Yes, leap years happen because a planet’s orbit around the Sun (year) and rotation on its axis (day) are not perfectly in line.

According to NASA, Mars has more leap years than regular years.

A year on Mars is about 668 sols, or Martian days. However, it takes 668.6 sols for Mars to go around the Sun.

So, you would sometimes have to add a sol to help the calendar catch up. In a 10-year period, four of the years would have 668 sols and six of the years would be leap years with 669 sols.

“Leap Year” movie released in 2010

Actress Amy Adams portrays a woman named Anna Brady, who plans to travel to Dublin, Ireland, to propose to her boyfriend on Feb. 29, leap day. According to Irish tradition, a man who receives a marriage proposal on a leap day must accept it. Actor Adam Scott portrays the boyfriend named Jeremy in the movie.

“Leap Year” was not released on Feb. 29. It came out in theaters on Jan. 8, 2010. It made about $32.6 million and had a $19 million budget.

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