By Plummer H. C. 1875
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Extra info for An Introductory Treatise On Dynamical Astronomy
Thus, the Kuiper Belt object discovered in December 2004 and originally nicknamed ‘Buffy’ (after the TV vampire-slayer), was 2004 XR 190. Such Kuiper Belt objects don’t keep their nicknames, however, because the convention is to name them after deities in the indigenous creation mythology of the discoverer’s home district. This naming process can take some time, because a permanent name is not bestowed until a reliable orbit has been determined for the object in question. Kuiper Belt objects move so slowly against the background of stars that it could take a few years for this to happen.
As the planet’s rotation slows, the everyday events that define the passage of time—sunrise, noon, sunset, and so on—begin to get slightly out of step with the relentless ticking of International Atomic Time. If left unchecked, the cumulative effect of this error would amount to several seconds within a few decades, and the first people to notice would be astronomers and satellite-tracking station personnel trying to point their telescopes in the right direction. After a few hundred years, though, the error would amount to minutes or hours, and no one would be able to ignore it.
You need to subtract that amount from the local mean solar time you’ve already established from your sundial—whereupon you’ll have reached your goal of standard clock time. Voilà! That’s it. 44 44 3/8/07 8:15:56 AM RUNNING LIKE CLOCKWORK: THE MECHANISMS OF PLANET EARTH 45 unless daylight saving is in force—in which case you’ll need to add another hour. • Why do we need leap seconds? The most accurate clocks available today rely not on the swing of a pendulum, nor the oscillation of a balance wheel—nor even the vibrations of a quartz crystal—but on the subtle behaviour of atoms.
An Introductory Treatise On Dynamical Astronomy by Plummer H. C. 1875