It's That Time Again, Happy Leap Day!

Today is February 29th — otherwise known as Leap Day, and it comes around every four years. Rose Bunch of El Cajon, Calif., enjoys the day because it's her birthday. The 64 year old is celebrating her 16th birthday.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We woke up this morning to the rarest of dates: February 29th - the odd, extra day that comes every four years, since there are apparently more than 365 days in a year.

JIM LATTIS: 365.2422, or something like that.

MONTAGNE: That's Jim Lattis. He's director of the University of Wisconsin's Space Place, an education and outreach center for the school's Astronomy Department.

LATTIS: And that's simply counting the number of days and the time that it takes the Earth to orbit the sun.

MONTAGNE: Lattis says days and years are not defined by us, but by the natural world.

LATTIS: Because there are 365-and-not-quite-a-quarter-days in the time that it takes the Earth to orbit the sun, we have to deal with that leftover fraction.

MONTAGNE: So every four years, we get a leap day. Making some sort of adjustment is key. Otherwise, the calendar would slowly become out of sync with the seasons - not quite Christmas in July, but it might feel that way.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Of course, the big question: What does this all mean if you're a leap day baby, born on February 29th? Well, Rose Bunch of El Cajon, California remembers that, as a kid, it involved some teasing.

ROSE BUNCH: I would say: I'm going to have a birthday party, and I'm going to invite Mary and Janie and all my friends, right? And my dad would say, but wait a minute. I think you better go to the calendar and - I don't think there's a birthday there. And so I'd go to the calendar and I'd flip it up, and I didn't see it and I'd start crying. And my mom would get so mad at him in the background and say don't tease her like that.

MONTAGNE: Rose Bunch says there's an upside now. She was born 64 years ago, so technically, today, she's turning 16.

BUNCH: It's great to be able to be able to say I'm 16, because I'm not lying about my age. And you know how women don't like to lie about their age.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: