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Universal Time


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A world-wide standard time-scale, the same as Greenwich Mean Time. Universal Time is the mean solar time on the meridian of Greenwich. It is defined as the Greenwich hour angle of the mean sun plus 12 hours, so that the day begins at midnight rather than noon. It is closely linked to Greenwich Mean Sidereal Time (GMST), since the mean sidereal day is a precisely known fraction of the mean solar day. In practice, UT is determined by a formula from GMST, which in turn is derived from the observations of the meridian transits of stars. The version of UT derived directly from such observations is designated UT0, which is slightly dependent on the observing site. When UT0 is corrected for the variation in longitude due to the Chandler wobble, a version of Universal Time, UT1, is derived which has genuine world-wide application. When UT1 is compared with International Atomic Time (TAI), it is found to be losing approximately a second a year against TAI. Broadcast time signals use the time-scale known as Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). This is TAI with an offset of a whole number of seconds. The offset is adjusted when necessary by the introduction of a leap second, and UTC is always kept within 0.9 s of UT1.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.


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