Why an extra second is added to time tonight?

At midnight tonight clocks will pause momentarily as the entire planet gains a bonus second. On an atomic clock, it will read 23:59:60 before ticking forward to 00.00.00.

According to Daily Mail the adjustment is necessary because measuring 24 hours by the spinning of the Earth – astronomical time – is slightly inaccurate due to the gravitational pull of the Moon.

CapeTalk’s John Maytham spoke to Astronomer, Dr Claire Flanagan to explain why we are losing time.

According to Dr Flanagan it’s been three years since this kind of activity was done, June 2012.

It gets done because we want the 24 hours a day to match the sun; we want the sun to be up during the daytime so we basically at the end depend on the rotation of the earth to set our clock

Dr Claire Flanagan, Astronomer

The earth's rotation slows down by around two thousandths of a second per day, she says.

Dr Flanagan also mentioned that the leap second won’t be the only fascinating thing happening tonight but Venus and Jupiter will be very close to each other and visible to the naked eye, in the West. She says Venus will be brighter than Jupiter.

Listen to the full conversation on The John Maytham Show:


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