The Earliest Spring of Your Life?
Spring will arrive early this year, due to a quirky leap year in 2016. Have you noticed that the equinox used to happen on March 21st? This year, depending on your time zone in the northern hemisphere, Spring will begin on either the 19th or the 20th of March.
As it turns out, that extra day in February has consequences beyond making it hard to plan a birthday party. But let’s backtrack to the year 2000. The year 2000 marked the first time in four centuries a year divisible by 100 didn’t skip the leap year. In other words, a February 29 did occur in 2000 and it was the first century year with a leap day since Galileo was peering into a vertically angled telescope.
Now we won’t get into the nitty gritty of our Gregorian Calendar, but basically in our calendar system if a year is divisible by 400, only then will it be a leap year.
The consequence of that little move will affect us during this next month. Because 2000 was an unorthodox year for us, solstices and equinoxes began to occur earlier and earlier. The usual century leap year prevented the calendar from jumping back.
In case you haven’t noticed, Spring began on March 21 when you were little, but it’s been falling on the 20th for some years now. This year, the first day of Spring will fall on the 19th of March for most US time zones.
This means 2016 will have the earliest Spring since 1896! Later this century, Spring will begin on the 19th of March every year. Then, the next glitch won’t occur until February 29, 4000.
How does it feel to experience history?
Oh, and don’t forget to “Spring” forward this Sunday, March 13th, at 2:00 am—as most of the US changes the clock an hour ahead for Daylight Savings Time.
For Those of You Who Want a Little More Background…
The numbers of days in a year aren’t even, but you knew that already. Our calendar system adds one day every fourth year to accommodate this fact. But, because Earth spins a little less than 365 ¼ times per year, we must rid the calendar of that extra once-every-four-year day, and that’s what will happen again in the year 4000.