Happy New Year . . one second late

NEXT year will be arriving late - thanks to a slowing down of the Earth's rotation.

To compensate for the effect, a "leap second" is to be added to the end of today, meaning the traditional Hogmanay countdown tonight will now end at 00.00.01.

The decision was taken by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service, based at the Paris Observatory.

Leap seconds were introduced in 1972, but this is the first to be applied for seven years.

Clocks are based on Greenwich Mean Time, which is tied to Sun's position in relation to the Greenwich Meridian - the zero line of longitude.

The resulting "Universal Time" depends on the rotation of the Earth on its axis.

But the speed at which the Earth spins is continually changing, mostly because of the friction of tides. This results in a small but continuous slowing down, so that the day is now about two milliseconds longer than it was 200 years ago.

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