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What would actually happen if we didn't have leap years

What would actually happen if we didn't have leap years

Our world would look very different

It's 2024, which means that we have the pleasure of having one more day in our calendars as it is a leap year.

But why do we have leap years? And what would happen if they just didn't exist?

A normal year consists of 365 days, with three out of every four years considered a 'normal year', and the fourth is always a leap year.

A leap year consists of 366 days for some bizarre reason - except it's not bizarre and makes total sense.

The day is added to the end of February, with the short month having 29 days instead of 28 in a leap year.

We have kept this same method for thousands of years and it hasn't let us down, though Christopher Sirola, associate professor at the University of Southern Mississippi School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, can explain why it works in more detail.

2024 is a leap year.
Getty Stock Photo

He explains: "The duration of the Earth's orbit, the year, is not an even number of days.

"To several digits of precision, it's 365.2422 days. This means we will either overcount or undercount the year by hewing to even numbers of days, 365 or 366."

Basically, a year is 365 days and six hours, with the extra day put in place every four years to keep us on track.

But what would happen if we took leap years out altogether?

The impact would be huge.
Getty Stock Photo

Firstly, leap day babies wouldn't need to celebrate their birthdays on 28 February or 1 March for three years, as the date just wouldn't exist.

But more serious factors would take time to have an effect, and they would be massive.

In just 40 years, seasons on Earth would be out of line with the date by 10 days, and in 700 years, the Northern Hemisphere could experience an Australian Christmas, with summer heat in December.

Things like hunting seasons and other celebrations tied to seasons would need to be changed but not to fear - in another 700 years, things would go back to the way they were.

The man who actually introduced the idea of a leap year and a leap day was none other than Julius Caesar.

Sirola explained: "It was then nicknamed the 'Julian Calendar.' He didn't do the calculations himself, but paid for them, kind of like having your company's name on a football stadium.

"The story is that when he was in Egypt, during his famous affair with Cleopatra, that Egypt had a better calendar than Rome. But Egypt refused to do anything about the uneven number of days. He, or his astronomers, realized by adding a leap day on a regular basis, the calendar would remain in tune with the seasons."

The more you know, eh?

Featured Image Credit: Getty Stock Photos

Topics: Science, Education, History