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How does Leap Year work?

What is Leap Year? Why do we have it? How does it work? Joss Fong explains how Leap Year works in this Vox video, starting here:

“To understand Leap Year, you have to know this one fact: Earth rotates 365.24219 times during one full orbit of the sun. That’s right: A year is not 365 days. It’s 365.24219 days.”

how many days are in a year?
And if we didn’t observe this quirk in our calendar every four years? Fong explains that “without Leap Year, our calendar would become disconnected with the seasons.”

leap year and the seasons

Plus, another question: When do leap year babies — born on the rare date of February 29th — celebrate their birthdays?

This is an existential question for leap babies. The community is divided into “28thers” and “1sters,” as one reader, Phil Haney, told me… “My mother always told me that I was born ‘the day after the 28th.’” He said. “I wasn’t here on the 28th, so it makes more sense to celebrate on March 1.”

Shannon Esposito, a fourth-grade teacher outside Chicago, is an avowed 28ther. “I have always, always celebrated on February 28. To me, it’s always been a February birthday,” she said. “I am not a March baby!”…

Are you turning 32, or 8? That’s the question leap year babies can’t avoid on their actual birthdays… Does everyone make the joke that you’re a quarter of your actual age?

Spoiler: Yes.

Also from Vox: How do solar & lunar eclipses work? Plus: Reasons for the Seasons and Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar.


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