National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, Maryland

December 1998

Leap Second Scheduled for New Year's Eve

On December 31, 1998, a leap second will be inserted into the world's Coordinated Universal Time scale, known as UTC, to keep it synchronized with the rotation of the Earth. The leap second will be added to the last minute before 7 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. CST, 5 p.m. MST and 4 p.m. PST, making that minute 61 seconds long. This adjustment will be made to precise clocks all over the world that keep UTC time or local time based on UTC. In the U.S., UTC is kept by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory.

See for more information.

You can call (303) 499-7111 to hear NIST's correct time announcement.

The Second Sprung

By David Lovering

In UTC at midnight
On December Thirty-One,
You'll find you get an extra
Second full of fun.
If you're not in Greenwich England
When the moment comes about,
You'll need to make adjustments
To the interval in doubt
At seven in the evening
(For those on EST),
Or six p.m. in Central,
Or five for MST.
Or four p.m. Pacific
Or wherever you may be,
Please thank your friendly NISTite
In Time and Frequency!
For our globe is spinning slower
(As we all are, I'm afraid),
While the Earth Rotation Service
Notes the seconds it's delayed.
Since we cannot speed the planet
We must compensate the clock,
And leap an extra second
To match our slowing rock.

(David Lovering, an electronics engineer in NIST's Information Technology Laboratory, has a penchant for poetry.)

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