Making the Leap

Leaping off Pyramid Point

Untitled, photo by Todd Richter

Happy Leap Day everyone and here’s hoping that this quadrennial occurrence adds a little fun to your life! Borgna Brunner lays down Leap Year 101:

Leap years are added to the calendar to keep it working properly. The 365 days of the annual calendar are meant to match up with the solar year. A solar year is the time it takes the Earth to complete its orbit around the Sun — about one year. But the actual time it takes for the Earth to travel around the Sun is in fact a little longer than that—about 365 ¼ days (365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be precise). So the calendar and the solar year don’t completely match—the calendar year is a touch shorter than the solar year.

It may not seem like much of a difference, but after a few years those extra quarter days in the solar year begin to add up. After four years, for example, the four extra quarter days would make the calendar fall behind the solar year by about a day. Over the course of a century, the difference between the solar year and the calendar year would become 25 days! Instead of summer beginning in June, for example, it wouldn’t start until nearly a month later, in July. As every kid looking forward to summer vacation knows—calendar or no calendar—that’s way too late! So every four years a leap day is added to the calendar to allow it to catch up to the solar year.

Read on for more and enjoy your day.

Todd took this shot back in August of 2009 at one of my favorite spots for hiking (and jumping) – the Pyramid Point overlook in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Lake Michigan is hundreds of feet down a steep bluff from the point where she’s jumping, and many is the person who wished they didn’t run down that bluff after toiling up it!

View Todd’s photo background bigtacular and see more in his digital slideshow.

More dunes on Michigan in Pictures!

3 thoughts on “Making the Leap

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