The last minute of 2016 will have an extra second — here’s why

File photo of Visitors at the Musee d’orsay to see in the dark if they are behind a huge clock in the former Orsay train station, with views on the Sacré-Coeur Basilica (behind), in Paris on 8 April 2015. (REUTERS/John Schults)

It would feel as if 2016 has already been exceeded are welcome, but if you’re counting down the seconds until 2017 to see, you better add one more. 2016 the last minute, exactly one second longer than any other minute of the year, and it is all due to the speed of the rotation of the Earth is not lining up perfectly with the very accurate atomic clocks that timekeepers use to tally each passing second.

It’s called a “leap second” and it is not an uncommon occurrence. These extra seconds will be added to the stroke of midnight on 30 June or 31 December of a given year, depending on whether the adjustment is needed. The most recent leap second took place in June 2015, and the most recent before that was in June of 2012.

Sometimes an extra second is needed in successive years, as the period 1992 to 1995, but there are also long stretches that there is no adjustment was necessary as of 1999 to the end of 2005.

So why do they exist? Well, the astronomical clock is always used for the length of an Earth day as a standard. The length of a day is determined by the rotation of the Earth, that are not fully consistent. Our planet rotates slightly slower with each passing year, and to ensure that our bells are as close to accurate as possible, one extra second must be added to balance things out.

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2016 additional second place all the way to the end; instead of ticking over from 11:59:59 PM 12:00:00 HOURS, as normally happens, 11:59:60 HOURS, will sneak in between, keeping the world’s clocks on track to become an extra second is inevitably necessary.

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