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Therefore, if the UTC day were defined as precisely 86400 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 purpose of a leap second is to compensate for this drift, by occasionally scheduling some UTC days with 86401 or (in principle) 86399 SI seconds.
Specifically, a positive leap second is inserted between second of a chosen UTC calendar date and second 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.
A leap second is a one-second adjustment that is occasionally applied to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) in order to keep its time of day close to the mean solar time, or UT1.
Without such a correction, time reckoned by Earth's rotation drifts away from atomic time because of irregularities in the Earth's rate of rotation.
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