Doing the Leap Year Math…

… My Grandfather, who we affectionately called Bobdad… [My Dad called him Bob, Mom called him Dad, my oldest brother evidently not making the Grandpa connection, decided to solve the name confusion. (I’m sure he was the only one confused but that’s another story.) To cover all bases he put the two names together, created Bobdad and… it stuck!] …was blessed with this dilemma.

Dilemma? What dilemma? And where the heck does math fit into all this? Well, this wonderfully generous and gentle man was born February 29, 1880. (That date is NOT a tpyo) And when it comes to birthdays landing on leap day it can be confusing. Especially for the easily confused.

Bobdad's 20/84 Birthday

This picture of Bobdad is from a feature article in the Kent News-Journal dated March 4, 1964. He was exactly 20 years old… or 84. Your choice. In the article he points out: “I missed having a birthday for eight years, because there was no Leap Year in 1900.” (If you are exceptional at math you’ve already figured 84 divided by 4 should have been 21. I am not exceptional. It took me awhile.)

So today, 132 years after his birth, my Grandfather would be celebrating his official 33rd birthday. No wait… make that 32nd birthday. I forgot about the ‘1900’ issue… See what I mean? Confusing. (Love and miss you Bobdad!)

Please note: For everyone’s enlightenment I have found this clear explaination as to why some years contain no Leap…

It’s to keep the year in alignment with reality, e.g. Consider a little astronomy and arithmetic. It turns out that our year, the time it takes for the earth to make a single revolution around the sun, is very close to 365.2422 days. If we simply make every fourth year a leap year, we have 365.25 day years, not far off and that .0078 day difference is only about 11 minutes and 14 seconds. (You can easily check that by multiplying .0078 day x 24 hours/day x 60 minutes/hour.) However that small annual accumulation of .0078 day will lead to a full day in about 128 years. (Calculating that is still easier. Enter .0078 in your calculator and press the 1/x key, immediately converting days/year to years/day.) To further correct for this, our current Gregorian calendar makes two adjustments: (1) even though they are clearly divisible by four, years divisible by 100 are not leap years, (2) except for those divisible by 400 which are leap years. Thus 1900 was not a leap year, but this year we have the most unusual case of all — 2000 is divisible by 400 so it is a leap year. This remarkable situation will not occur again until the year 2400.

… You’re Welcome!


One thought on “Doing the Leap Year Math…

  1. Loving Bobdad’s quizzical look – exactly how old am I? Something like people born in one place but raised in another. Their birth certificate gives them a location label, but is that who they are? A dislocated life often gives birth to the writer/artist. Interesting post.

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