Time Will Stand Still at Midnight New Year's Eve

Timekeepers make 2008 a second longer to compensate for Earth's wonky rotation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2008 7:05 AM CST
Doug Lehman helps to attach the last pieces of Waterford crystal to the 2008 New Year's Eve ball in Yonkers, N.Y. on Monday, Nov. 10, 2008.    (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The last minute of the last hour of the last day of 2008 is getting an extension, LiveScience reports. The world's timekeepers are tacking an extra "leap second" onto the end of the year to allow super-accurate clocks to get back in synch with the planet's irregular but gradually slowing rotation. The planet has been falling behind atomic clocks about 2 milliseconds a day, adding up to about six-tenths of a second since the last adjustment 3 years ago.

Wednesday will be the 24th leap second added since the practice began in 1972, making the world's clocks more accurate but spreading some confusion. "This can affect my job," the engineer assigned to drop the Times Square ball told a planetarium he called to check the correct time. "So I want to be sure I don't drop that thing one second too soon!"