What is a leap year and why do they happen? Everything you need to know about Leap Day

February will last a little longer than normal. It is a leap year and in 2024 Leap Day falls on Friday, February 29. The strange calendar means that this year lasts 366 days, instead of the regular 365.

This is why leap years occur.

What is the purpose of a leap year?
Leap years exist because even though the world follows a 365-day Gregorian calendar, it takes the planet just over a year to orbit the sun. According to NASA, it takes Earth 365 days, 5 hours, 48 ​​minutes, and 46 seconds to orbit the sun — and while that’s rounded down to the 365 days we consider a normal year, those nearly six extra hours don’t disappear.

Instead, leap years are added to account for the difference. The extra day ensures that calendars and seasons don’t gradually get out of sync and impact harvesting, planting, and other cycles based on the seasons. Without leap days, the calendars would be off by 24 days in 100 years, CBS Minnesota reported, and in 700 years, summers in the Northern Hemisphere would begin in December.

“For example, suppose July is a warm summer month where you live. If we never had leap years, all those missing hours would add up to days, weeks, and even months,” NASA said online. “Eventually, in a few hundred years, July would take place during the cold winter months!”

Why is Leap Day in February?
It is because of ancient Roman history that Leap Day falls in February.

“It’s mainly because the Romans didn’t really like February,” Ben Gold, a professor of astronomy and physics at Hamline University in Saint Paul, told CBS Minnesota two leap years ago in 2016. century BC, the calendar lasted only ten months, with the Romans considering winter as one period that was not divided into months. Eventually, the Romans instituted January and February. February, the last month, had the fewest days.

Julius Caesar then adjusted the calendar to align it with the sun, Gold explained, adding Leap Day by decree. However, that still couldn’t fully explain the difference in time. That wouldn’t be solved for hundreds of years.

In 1582, Pope Gregory While 2000 was a leap year, 2100 and 2200 will not be.

In the 1700s, British law designated Feb. 29 as Leap Day.

When is the next leap year?
Leap years occur every four years, unless it falls in a century year that cannot be divided by four. The next leap year will be in 2028. Leap Day that year is celebrated on Tuesday, February 29. After that, the next leap year is 2032, when leap day falls on Sunday, February 29.