RE: Leap seconds

Date: Sun Jun 30 2002 - 10:11:35 EDT

  • Next message: Steve Newcomb: "Cosmos 2298"

    This is a hot topic right now: the GPS community (at least I think
    they are the perpetrators) are trying to persuade IERS to abandon leap
    seconds entirely so that their software is easier. This would mean
    noticeable drifts of UTC relative to the sky on timescales of a decade
    or so, and make a lot of professional astronomy software seriously
    broken. The astronomy community are screaming and telling the nav
    people that if they don't like leap seconds they should just use 
    a perfectly good preexisting timescale like TAI or TT, and don'tmess
    with our UTC. Today is actually the deadline for users of UTC to
    send in their comments on the proposal: see the questionnaire at
    and if you have strong opinions about leap seconds, send it in TODAY.
     Would visual observers prefer to switch to something like TAI?
    Or do you like the fact that UTC directly relates hour angle to
    RA (admittedly only at equinox of date?). It'll be thousands of years
    before we start getting daylight at midnight due to lack of leap 
    seconds, so it won't bother the average member of the public.
     - Jonathan McDowell
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