Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Jumping Over Leap Year

Many people have been vocal about Day Light Savings Time. I agree that we should set the clocks a half hour between and leave that be the time all year round. Another annoyance is Leap Year where every four years we add an extra day to the calendar in February, February 29.

The reason for Leap Year is that the mean time between two successive vernal equinoxes is called a tropical year, and it is about 365.2422 days long. Using a calendar with 365 days would result in an error of 0.2422 days or almost 6 hours per year. After 100 years, this calendar would be more than 24 days ahead of the seasons (tropical year).

My question is why bother? The benefit to eliminating the Leap Day is every 700 years the seasons would be totally flipped. Live in Australia and want a white Christmas? You could have one in a little over half a millennium.
If you live to be 80 years old, within your entire lifetime you will only notice a 20 day seasonal shift.

Have you ever known someone born on February 29? It may be fun, but it is confusing when being confronted with what your birthday is for the three years between leap years.

Such fun was featured in The Pirates of Penzance, Frederic was as a child apprenticed to a band of tenderhearted, orphaned pirates by his nurse who, being hard of hearing, had mistaken her master's instructions to apprentice the boy to a pilot. Frederic, upon completing his 21st year, rejoices that he has fulfilled his indentured services and is now free to return to respectable society. But it turns out that he was born on February 29 in leap year, and he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday, which would make him 84.

So what's the big deal? Another idea I proposed a long time ago on this blog is to have 13 months where each consisted of 28 days. That would give each year 364 days, and the dates would fall on the same days every month. Why do we need to complicate everything by having everything so jumbled up?


Blogger Hahn at Home said...

If they did decide to do it, people will be stockpiling supplies, screaming, "end of the world" like they did with the Y2K thing.

5:59 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

I really like that last one (each month has 28 days). It appeals to my sense of organization and logic. (Although most everything in life isn't logical...)

12:32 PM  
Blogger Uncle Walt said...

What would you call the 13th month?

Would it be at the end of the year, or between existing months?

What do the other calendars do? IE; do the Hebrew or Chinese calendars have "leap years"?

1:07 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Lori, stop it. You'll frighten Walt and Gearhead.

Beth, born in September, were you? I don't believe in Astrology, but I smell Virgo all over you.

Walt, here is a link to my first mention of this back in July of 2006. Click Here Read the comments because someone talks about the Mayan calendar. As for the name of the new month, Astoria-Rust, of course.

2:21 PM  
Anonymous Moosehead said...

Re the Daylight Saving time and the mention of it last June....we did that already here. Newfoundland runs one half hour behind the rest of the country. Leave it to the Noofs...heard one walking into a bar the other day and seeing a sign advertising lobster tail and beer as the daily special remarked..."Gee...my three favorite things".

3:32 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

I like the 13-month idea. Another possibility (I believe the Greeks may have done this?) is to have a number of extra-calendrical(?) days each year that simply don't count in any month. In the 13x28 "Astoria-Rust calendar" there would be only one such day, but one could also imagine a year of 12 months of 30 days each, plus 5 extra days (I think that was the Greek system, since they tended to like round numbers like 360). These days would, of course, be holidays.

You'd still have the leap-year shift, which, incidentally, would eventually make problems for almanacs and other systems concerned with comparing how things were "this time" last year (or 10 or 20 years ago). For example, published "last frost" dates in the spring would be harder to remember (or would have to be changed every 4 years). But any society that thinks daylight savings time is an improvement should be able to handle that without comment. Besides, global warming is changing those pretty fast anyway...

10:55 AM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Moosehead, a Noof?

OK, Frank, my head is spinning now, but any friend of Zoe is OK in my book. Climate change will havoc the frost cycle, but mostly it will continue to frost first on the waining Harvest Moon, and the last frost will be when the leaves of an oak tree are the size of the ear of a mouse.

As for the extra days, 1,400 years will set it right again. We could also mark days between equinox and solstice for those who are really uptight about it all.

12:24 PM  

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