Date: 1999 - 2000
Hi, according to the previous question, the exact time
for a day is 23 h 56 min... so in 365 days (a year) we have about 24 h
and I'd like to know the reason why every 4 years we have a leap year
with only one day, thanks
A year is approximately 365.24 solar days. So, approximately every four
365-day years, the earth is ane day short of a full revolution around the
sun. Therefore, we extend the numbering of the year by one day to start the
new year in the same spot.
The 23 h 56 min day is the "siderial" day, the time from fixed-star to
fixed-star. This is because the time it takes the Earth to rotate once about
its axis is a little shorter than the 24-hour "solar" day we're accustomed
to. A "solar" day is defined as the average time from high noon to high
noon, that is, the interval between the times when the Sun is highest in the
sky. Because the Earth orbits the Sun, by the time it completes one
revolution, the location on the earth closest to the sun has shifted a bit.
The Earth then needs to rotate a little more to make it line up again. The
time for one true rotation is the interval between the times that a distant
star is highest in the sky, "fixed star to fixed star." This interval is
known as a "siderial" day, which is 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.06 seconds.
Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D.
PG Research Foundation, Darien, Illinois
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Update: June 2012