Civil time

In modern usage, civil time refers to statutory time scales designated by civilian authorities, or to local time indicated by clocks. Modern civil time is generally standard time in a time zone at a fixed offset from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) or from Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), possibly adjusted by daylight saving time during part of the year. UTC is calculated by reference to atomic clocks, and was adopted in 1972.[1] Older systems use telescope observations.

In traditional astronomical usage, civil time was mean solar time reckoned from midnight. Before 1925, the astronomical time 00:00:00 meant noon, twelve hours after the civil time 00:00:00 which meant midnight. HM Nautical Almanac Office in the United Kingdom used Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) for both conventions, leading to ambiguity, whereas the Nautical Almanac Office at the United States Naval Observatory used GMT for the pre-1925 convention and Greenwich Civil Time (GCT) for the post-1924 convention until 1952. In 1928, the International Astronomical Union introduced the term Universal Time for GMT beginning at midnight, but the two Nautical Almanac Offices did not accept it until 1952.

See also

  • Category:Time by country
  • Category:Time zones


  1. ^ "COORDINATED UNIVERSAL TIME (UTC) (CCTF/09-32)" (PDF). Bureau International des Poids et Mesures. p. 3. Retrieved 3 May 2017.

External links

Atomic clock

An atomic clock is a clock device that uses an electron transition frequency in the microwave, optical, or ultraviolet region of the electromagnetic spectrum of atoms as a frequency standard for its timekeeping element. Atomic clocks are the most accurate time and frequency standards known, and are used as primary standards for international time distribution services, to control the wave frequency of television broadcasts, and in global navigation satellite systems such as GPS.

The principle of operation of an atomic clock is based on atomic physics; it uses the microwave signal that electrons in atoms emit when they change energy levels. Early atomic clocks were based on masers at room temperature. Currently, the most accurate atomic clocks first cool the atoms to near absolute zero temperature by slowing them with lasers and probing them in atomic fountains in a microwave-filled cavity. An example of this is the NIST-F1 atomic clock, one of the national primary time and frequency standards of the United States.

The accuracy of an atomic clock depends on two factors. The first factor is temperature of the sample atoms—colder atoms move much more slowly, allowing longer probe times. The second factor is the frequency and intrinsic width of the electronic transition. Higher frequencies and narrow lines increase the precision.

National standards agencies in many countries maintain a network of atomic clocks which are intercompared and kept synchronized to an accuracy of 10−9 seconds per day (approximately 1 part in 1014). These clocks collectively define a continuous and stable time scale, the International Atomic Time (TAI). For civil time, another time scale is disseminated, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). UTC is derived from TAI, but has added leap seconds from UT1, to account for the rotation of the Earth with respect to the solar time.

Coordinated Universal Time

Coordinated Universal Time (abbreviated to UTC) is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude, and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. In some countries where English is spoken, the term Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is often used as a synonym for UTC.The first Coordinated Universal Time was informally adopted on 1 January 1960 and was first officially adopted as CCIR Recommendation 374, Standard-Frequency and Time-Signal Emissions, in 1963, but the official abbreviation of UTC and the official English name of Coordinated Universal Time (along with the French equivalent) were not adopted until 1967.The system has been adjusted several times, including a brief period where time coordination radio signals broadcast both UTC and "Stepped Atomic Time (SAT)" before a new UTC was adopted in 1970 and implemented in 1972. This change also adopted leap seconds to simplify future adjustments. This CCIR Recommendation 460 "stated that (a) carrier frequencies and time intervals should be maintained constant and should correspond to the definition of the SI second; (b) step adjustments, when necessary, should be exactly 1 s to maintain approximate agreement with Universal Time (UT); and (c) standard signals should contain information on the difference between UTC and UT."A number of proposals have been made to replace UTC with a new system that would eliminate leap seconds. A decision whether to remove them altogether has been deferred until 2023.The current version of UTC is defined by International Telecommunications Union Recommendation (ITU-R TF.460-6), Standard-frequency and time-signal emissions, and is based on International Atomic Time (TAI) with leap seconds added at irregular intervals to compensate for the slowing of the Earth's rotation. Leap seconds are inserted as necessary to keep UTC within 0.9 seconds of the UT1 variant of universal time. See the "Current number of leap seconds" section for the number of leap seconds inserted to date.

Greenwich Mean Time

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is the mean solar time at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London, reckoned from midnight. At different times in the past, it has been calculated in different ways, including being calculated from noon; as a consequence, it cannot be used to specify a precise time unless a context is given.

English speakers often use GMT as a synonym for Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). For navigation, it is considered equivalent to UT1 (the modern form of mean solar time at 0° longitude); but this meaning can differ from UTC by up to 0.9 s. The term GMT should not thus be used for technical purposes.Because of Earth's uneven speed in its elliptical orbit and its axial tilt, noon (12:00:00) GMT is rarely the exact moment the sun crosses the Greenwich meridian and reaches its highest point in the sky there. This event may occur up to 16 minutes before or after noon GMT, a discrepancy calculated by the equation of time. Noon GMT is the annual average (i.e. "mean") moment of this event, which accounts for the word "mean" in "Greenwich Mean Time".

Originally, astronomers considered a GMT day to start at noon, while for almost everyone else it started at midnight. To avoid confusion, the name Universal Time was introduced to denote GMT as counted from midnight. Astronomers preferred the old convention to simplify their observational data, so that each night was logged under a single calendar date. Today Universal Time usually refers to UTC or UT1.The term "GMT" is especially used by bodies connected with the United Kingdom, such as the BBC World Service, the Royal Navy, the Met Office and others particularly in Arab countries, such as the Middle East Broadcasting Centre and OSN. It is a term commonly used in the United Kingdom and countries of the Commonwealth, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Malaysia; and in many other countries of the Eastern Hemisphere.

ISO 8601

ISO 8601 Data elements and interchange formats – Information interchange – Representation of dates and times is an international standard covering the exchange of date- and time-related data. It was issued by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and was first published in 1988. The purpose of this standard is to provide an unambiguous and well-defined method of representing dates and times, so as to avoid misinterpretation of numeric representations of dates and times, particularly when data are transferred between countries with different conventions for writing numeric dates and times.

In general, ISO 8601 applies to representations and formats of dates in the Gregorian (and potentially proleptic Gregorian) calendar, of times based on the 24-hour timekeeping system (with optional UTC offset), of time intervals, and combinations thereof. The standard does not assign any specific meaning to elements of the date/time to be represented; the meaning will depend on the context of its use. In addition, dates and times to be represented cannot include words with no specified numerical meaning in the standard (e.g., names of years in the Chinese calendar) or that do not use characters (e.g., images, sounds).In representations for interchange, dates and times are arranged so the largest temporal term (the year) is placed to the left and each successively smaller term is placed to the right of the previous term. Representations must be written in a combination of Arabic numerals and certain characters (such as "-", ":", "T", "W", and "Z") that are given specific meanings within the standard; the implication is that some commonplace ways of writing parts of dates, such as "January" or "Thursday", are not allowed in interchange representations.

Jordan Halliday

Jordan Cade Halliday (born August 11, 1987) is an American animal rights activist. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2009 on charges related to resisting a federal grand jury investigating local illegal animal rights activities, mainly concerning fur farm raids in Utah. He was jailed for nearly four months under a contempt of court order to compel him to testify. He was later released and indicted on criminal contempt of court. He pleaded guilty to "Criminal Contempt of Court" on July 27, 2010. The charge is a unique one in that it is sui generis, meaning it is neither a felony nor a misdemeanor. He was sentenced on November 3, 2010, to 10 months in prison with 3 years of probation upon release. He filed an appeal with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals which was denied. He was accused of violating his terms by allegedly associating with the vegan straightedge. His house was raided by a dozen armed FBI agents and he started serving his sentence early on January 9, 2012. He was released on July 20, 2012, his civil time running concurrent with his criminal time. He was released with 3 years of probation. On August 8, 2013, he was granted early termination of supervision after filing a motion with his lawyer.

Leap second

A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to civil time Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to keep it close to the mean solar time at Greenwich, in spite of the Earth's rotation slowdown and irregularities. UTC was introduced on January 1, 1972, initially with a 10 second lag behind International Atomic Time (TAI). Since that date, 27 leap seconds have been inserted, the most recent on December 31, 2016 at 23:59:60 UTC, so in 2018, UTC lags behind TAI by an offset of 37 seconds.The UTC time standard, which is widely used for international timekeeping and as the reference for civil time in most countries, uses the international system (SI) definition of the second. The UTC second has been calibrated with atomic clock on the duration of the Earth's mean day of the astronomical year 1900. Because the rotation of the Earth has since further slowed down, the duration of today's mean solar day is longer (by roughly 0.001 seconds) than 24 SI hours (86,400 SI seconds). UTC would step ahead of solar time and need adjustment even if the Earth's rotation remained constant in the future. Therefore, if the UTC day were defined as precisely 86,400 SI seconds, the UTC time-of-day would slowly drift apart from that of solar-based standards, such as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and its successor UT1. The point on the Earth's equator where the sun culminates at 12:00:00 UTC would wander to the East by some 300 m each year. The leap second compensates for this drift, by occasionally scheduling a UTC day with 86,401 or (in principle) 86,399 SI seconds.

When it occurs, a positive leap second is inserted between second 23:59:59 of a chosen UTC calendar date and second 00:00:00 of the following date. The definition of UTC states that the last day of December and June are preferred, with the last day of March or September as second preference, and the last day of any other month as third preference. All leap seconds (as of 2017) have been scheduled for either June 30 or December 31. The extra second is displayed on UTC clocks as 23:59:60. On clocks that display local time tied to UTC, the leap second may be inserted at the end of some other hour (or half-hour or quarter-hour), depending on the local time zone. A negative leap second would suppress second 23:59:59 of the last day of a chosen month, so that second 23:59:58 of that date would be followed immediately by second 00:00:00 of the following date. Since the introduction of leap seconds, the mean solar day has outpaced UTC only for very brief periods, and has not triggered a negative leap second.

Because the Earth's rotation speed varies in response to climatic and geological events, UTC leap seconds are irregularly spaced and unpredictable. Insertion of each UTC leap second is usually decided about six months in advance by the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service (IERS), when needed to ensure that the difference between the UTC and UT1 readings will never exceed 0.9 seconds.


Midnight is the transition time from one day to the next – the moment when the date changes. In ancient Roman timekeeping, midnight was halfway between sunset and sunrise (i.e., solar midnight), varying according to the seasons. By clock time, midnight is the opposite of noon, differing from it by 12 hours.

Solar midnight is the time opposite to solar noon, when the Sun is closest to the nadir, and the night is equidistant from dusk and dawn. Due to the advent of time zones, which regularize time across a range of meridians, and daylight saving time, it rarely coincides with 12 midnight on the clock. Solar midnight depends on longitude and time of the year rather than on time zone.

In the Northern Hemisphere, "midnight" had an ancient geographic association with "north" (as did "noon" with "south" – see noon). Modern Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian and Serbian preserve this association with its word for "midnight" (północ, поўнач, північ, пoнoħ – literally "half-night"), which also means "north".

Midnight sun

The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the summer months in places north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle, when the Sun remains visible at the local midnight.


The second is the base unit of time in the International System of Units (SI), commonly understood and historically defined as ​1⁄86400 of a day – this factor derived from the division of the day first into 24 hours, then to 60 minutes and finally to 60 seconds each. Mechanical and electric clocks and watches usually have a face with 60 tickmarks representing seconds and minutes, traversed by a second hand and minute hand. Digital clocks and watches often have a two-digit counter that cycles through seconds. The second is also part of several other units of measurement like meters per second for velocity, meters per second per second for acceleration, and per second for frequency.

Although the historical definition of the unit was based on this division of the Earth's rotation cycle, the formal definition in the International System of Units (SI) is a much steadier timekeeper: 1 second is defined to be exactly "the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the caesium-133 atom" (at a temperature of 0 K).

Because the Earth's rotation varies and is also slowing ever so slightly, a leap second is periodically added to clock time to keep clocks in sync with Earth's rotation.

Multiples of seconds are usually counted in hours and minutes. Fractions of a second are usually counted in tenths or hundredths. In scientific work, small fractions of a second are counted in milliseconds (thousandths), microseconds (millionths), nanoseconds (billionths), and sometimes smaller units of a second.

An everyday experience with small fractions of a second is a 1-gigahertz microprocessor which has a cycle time of 1 nanosecond. Camera shutter speeds usually range from ​1⁄60 second to ​1⁄250 second.

Sexagesimal divisions of the day from a calendar based on astronomical observation have existed since the third millennium BC, though they were not seconds as we know them today. Small divisions of time could not be counted back then, so such divisions were figurative. The first timekeepers that could count seconds accurately were pendulum clocks invented in the 17th century. Starting in the 1950s, atomic clocks became better timekeepers than earth's rotation, and they continue to set the standard today.

Sidereal time

Sidereal time is a timekeeping system that astronomers use to locate celestial objects. Using sidereal time, it is possible to easily point a telescope to the proper coordinates in the night sky. Briefly, sidereal time is a "time scale that is based on Earth's rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed stars"

Viewed from the same location, a star seen at one position in the sky will be seen at the same position on another night at the same sidereal time. This is similar to how the time kept by a sundial can be used to find the location of the Sun. Just as the Sun and Moon appear to rise in the east and set in the west due to the rotation of Earth, so do the stars. Both solar time and sidereal time make use of the regularity of Earth's rotation about its polar axis, solar time following the Sun while sidereal time roughly follows the stars.

More exactly, sidereal time is the angle, measured along the celestial equator, from the observer's meridian to the great circle that passes through the March equinox and both celestial poles, and is usually expressed in hours, minutes, and seconds. Common time on a typical clock measures a slightly longer cycle, accounting not only for Earth's axial rotation but also for Earth's orbit around the Sun.

A sidereal day is approximately 23 hours, 56 minutes, 4.0905 SI seconds or also (24 hours - 4 minutes + 4 seconds). The March equinox itself precesses slowly westward relative to the fixed stars, completing one revolution in about 26,000 years, so the misnamed sidereal day ("sidereal" is derived from the Latin sidus meaning "star") is 0.0084 seconds shorter than the stellar day, Earth's period of rotation relative to the fixed stars.

The slightly longer "true" sidereal period is measured as the Earth Rotation Angle (ERA), formerly the stellar angle. An increase of 360° in the ERA is a full rotation of the Earth.

Because Earth orbits the Sun once a year, the sidereal time at any given place and time will gain about four minutes against local civil time, every 24 hours, until, after a year has passed, one additional sidereal "day" has elapsed compared to the number of solar days that have gone by.

Swatch Internet Time

Swatch Internet Time (or .beat time) is a decimal time concept introduced in 1998 by the Swatch corporation as part of their marketing campaign for their line of "Beat" watches.

Instead of hours and minutes, the mean solar day is divided into 1000 parts called ".beats". Each .beat is equal to one decimal minute in the French Revolutionary decimal time system and lasts 1 minute and 26.4 seconds (86.4 seconds) in standard time. Times are notated as a 3-digit number out of 1000 after midnight. So, @248 would indicate a time 248 .beats after midnight representing 248/1000 of a day, just over 5 hours and 57 minutes.

There are no time zones in Swatch Internet Time; instead, the new time scale of Biel Meantime (BMT) is used, based on Swatch's headquarters in Biel, Switzerland and equivalent to Central European Time, West Africa Time, and UTC+01. Unlike civil time in Switzerland and many other countries, Swatch Internet Time does not observe daylight saving time.

Time in Australia

Australia uses three main time zones: Australian Western Standard Time (AWST; UTC+08:00), Australian Central Standard Time (ACST; UTC+09:30), and Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST; UTC+10:00). Time is regulated by the individual state governments, some of which observe daylight saving time (DST). Australia's external territories observe different time zones.

Standard time was introduced in the 1890s when all of the Australian colonies adopted it. Before the switch to standard time zones, each local city or town was free to determine its local time, called local mean time. Now, Western Australia uses Western Standard Time; South Australia and the Northern Territory use Central Standard Time; while New South Wales, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) use Eastern Standard Time.

Daylight saving time (+1 hour) is used in states in the south and south-east - South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, and the ACT. It is not currently used in Western Australia, the Northern Territory or Queensland.

Time in the United States

Time in the United States, by law, is divided into nine standard time zones covering the states and its possessions, with most of the United States observing daylight saving time (DST) for approximately the spring, summer, and fall months. The time zone boundaries and DST observance are regulated by the Department of Transportation. Official and highly precise timekeeping services (clocks) are provided by two federal agencies: the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) (an agency of the Department of Commerce); and its military counterpart, the United States Naval Observatory (USNO). The clocks run by these services are kept synchronized with each other as well as with those of other international timekeeping organizations.

It is the combination of the time zone and daylight saving rules, along with the timekeeping services, which determines the legal civil time for any U.S. location at any moment.

Time standard

A time standard is a specification for measuring time: either the rate at which time passes; or points in time; or both. In modern times, several time specifications have been officially recognized as standards, where formerly they were matters of custom and practice. An example of a kind of time standard can be a time scale, specifying a method for measuring divisions of time. A standard for civil time can specify both time intervals and time-of-day.

Standardized time measurements are made using a clock to count periods of some period changes, which may be either the changes of a natural phenomenon or of an artificial machine.

Historically, time standards were often based on the Earth's rotational period. From the late 18 century to the 19th century it was assumed that the Earth's daily rotational rate was constant. Astronomical observations of several kinds, including eclipse records, studied in the 19th century, raised suspicions that the rate at which Earth rotates is gradually slowing and also shows small-scale irregularities, and this was confirmed in the early twentieth century. Time standards based on Earth rotation were replaced (or initially supplemented) for astronomical use from 1952 onwards by an ephemeris time standard based on the Earth's orbital period and in practice on the motion of the Moon. The invention in 1955 of the caesium atomic clock has led to the replacement of older and purely astronomical time standards, for most practical purposes, by newer time standards based wholly or partly on atomic time.

Various types of second and day are used as the basic time interval for most time scales. Other intervals of time (minutes, hours, and years) are usually defined in terms of these two.

UTC offset

The UTC offset is the difference in hours and minutes from Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) for a particular place and date. It is generally shown in the format ±[hh]:[mm], ±[hh][mm], or ±[hh]. So if the time being described is one hour ahead of UTC (such as the time in Berlin during the winter), the UTC offset would be "+01:00", "+0100", or simply "+01".

Every inhabited place in the world has a UTC offset that is a multiple of 15 minutes, and the majority of offsets (as well as all nautical time zones) are measured in whole hours.

UTC is the equivalent to GMT.

Universal Time

Universal Time (UT) is a time standard based on Earth's rotation. It is a modern continuation of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), i.e., the mean solar time on the Prime Meridian at Greenwich, England. In fact, the expression "Universal Time" is ambiguous (when accuracy of better than a few seconds is required), as there are several versions of it, the most commonly used being Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and UT1 (see § Versions). All of these versions of UT, except for UTC, are based on Earth's rotation relative to distant celestial objects (stars and quasars), but with a scaling factor and other adjustments to make them closer to solar time. UTC is based on International Atomic Time, with leap seconds added to keep it within 0.9 second of UT1.

Unix time

Unix time (also known as POSIX time or UNIX Epoch time) is a system for describing a point in time. It is the number of seconds that have elapsed since 00:00:00 Thursday, 1 January 1970, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), minus leap seconds. Every day is treated as if it contains exactly 86400 seconds, so leap seconds are to be subtracted since the epoch. It is used widely in Unix-like and many other operating systems and file formats. However, Unix time is not a true representation of UTC, as a leap second in UTC shares the same Unix time as the second which came before it. Unix time may be checked on most Unix systems by typing date +%s on the command line.

On systems where the representation of Unix time is as a signed 32-bit number, the representation will end after the completion of 2147483647 (231 − 1) seconds from 00:00:00 on 1 January 1970, which will happen at 3:14:08 UTC on 19 January 2038, although exactly how many seconds that is from now is not known because of unpredictable leap seconds. This is referred to as the Year 2038 problem, where the 32-bit signed Unix time will overflow and will take the actual count to negative.

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