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SCIENCE FILE | I Didn't Know That

June 12, 1997

Q: When does the next millennium begin, January 1, 2000, or January 1, 2001?

A: January 1, 2001, according to most authorities, including the Royal Greenwich Observatory, once the world's official timekeeper. The key is that there was no year 0. The sequence of years going from BC to AD runs 3 BC, 2 BC, 1 BC, AD 1, AD 2, etc. The first year of the first millennium was thus AD 1 and the thousandth year AD 1000. The first day of the second millennium was therefore New Year's Day 1001. By analogy, the first year of the third millennium is 2001. For more information, contact the observatory's Website at http://greenwich2000.com.

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