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Decoupling Civil Timekeeping from Earth Rotation

A Colloquium Exploring Implications of Redefining UTC in Astrodynamics, Astronomy, Geodesy, Navigation, Remote Sensing and Related Fields held at the Headquarters of Analytical Graphics, Inc., Exton, PA, October 5-6, 2011

The proceedings for "Decoupling Civil Timekeeping from Earth Rotation" are being published by Univelt, Inc. as part of the American Astronautical Society (AAS) Science and Technology Series, available from http://www.univelt.com/Science.html. The preprints of the proceedings are available on the Preprints page.

Universal Time - the conventional measure of Earth rotation and astronomical time-of-day – is the traditional basis for civil timekeeping worldwide. Since 1972, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) has remained a broadcast convention for labeling uniform atomic seconds so that civil clocks remain synchronized with Universal Time of day to better than one second. Because UTC began with radio broadcasts, its prescription has been maintained by the Radiocommunication Sector of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU-R).

A conclusive proposal to fundamentally redefine UTC is scheduled for a vote by the Radiocommunication Assembly of the ITU-R in January, 2012. The proposal will halt the contribution of so-called leap seconds to UTC after 2017, and will also terminate the requirement that time services transmit the difference between UT1 and UTC. If approved, UTC would no longer be useful as a type of Universal Time for most technical applications.

Many software and hardware systems needing to know how the Earth is oriented with respect to the sky rely on UTC for this purpose. Should UTC be redefined, significant consequences may be anticipated for applications and infrastructures across various fields. Applications that do not apply so-called Earth Orientation Parameters and/or DUT1 corrections to UTC would be most affected.

Sessions will cover diverse topics of pragmatic timekeeping in a possibly changing world.

For additional information, email: info(AT)futureofutc.org

Web pages for the 2013 Colloquium: "Requirements for UTC and Civil Timekeeping on Earth"

group photo
(click to enlarge group photo)


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