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Front Page » February 26, 2004 » Focus » Leap Year: Balancing the calendar
Published 3,838 days ago

Leap Year: Balancing the calendar


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By MELANIE STEELE
Sun Advocate reporter

There are a few universal truths that every person learns as a child; the sky is blue, the earth is round and a year has 365 days.

Well, two out of three isn't bad.

According to Wolfram Research, a tropical year actually has 365.242190 days.

Since that extra quarter day would be hard to equivocate on a calendar, every four years a leap day is added in February to realign the calendar with the seasons.

That is why every four years February has a 29th day.

However, since .242190 times four is only .968760, adding a day every four years is a little bit too much.

To balance things back out, a mathematical equation was developed to leave out certain certain years that would normally be leap years and keep the calendar correct.

So, according to Wolfram, there is a leap year every year divisible by four except for years which are both divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400.

For example, the year 2000 was a leap year yet the years 1700, 1800 and 1900 were not.

The current system of adding a leap day began in 1752 when Britain and its colonies changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, which is still used today.

Rachel Jensen has only celebrated her birthday four times and is looking forward to turning five on the 29th.

Her birthday is either celebrated on the first or the 28th, but this year she is looking forward to a party on her actual birthday with all of her extended family from Salt Lake City.

Jensen said she got teased some growing up because her leap-year birthday count made her so young.

"They thought I was just a baby," she laughed. "But I thought at least I'm never gonna get old."

Jensen is a full-time student at College of Eastern Utah and a lifelong resident of Carbon County.

This year Becky Noyes will celebrate her seventh birthday alonag with her son, who is also turning seven.

She joked that next year he will be older than her.

Noyes said the day of her birthday wasn't that unusual because she always celebrated it on the 28th, although a lot of her friends teased her when she turned 16, saying that not many 4-year-olds get to drive.

She added that in some ways having a leap year birthday was better because her large family never forgets what day it is and that she has won some fun prizes from leap year birthday contests.

Fifteen year old Ashlee Curtis is one of Carbon County's youngest leap year babies.

This year, for her sweet 16th, she will celebrate being four.

She said when she told people her birthday was the 29th of February, they have always thought she was making it up.

"People were like, that's not a day," she said.

Curtis, a sophomore at Carbon High, usually has her birthday on the 28th.

This year she will enjoy it on its true day.

"My family is having a surprise party for me that I don't know about," she joked. "My sister is not very good about keeping secrets."

Jeanne Boyack has found the good side of only having a birthday every four years.

"When I was a little kid, I felt really left out," she commented. "But now that I am older, it's great because I can lie about my age."

Boyack, a resident of Helper, will celebrate her 16th leap year birthday this Sunday.

Over the years, she has had her birthday on the 28th of February.

Betty Perez will be sweet 16 this year. As a leap year baby, she said her mother always celebrated her birthday on the last day of February, although her son-in-law argues that her birthday should always be the day after the 28th of February.

Growing up, she said her birthday didn't seem unusual and that she never really has paid attention to it.

"I'm at an age now where no birthday is important," she said.


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