Home > astronomy, Earth science, physical geography > Happy Aphelion Day (ok, a little late)

Happy Aphelion Day (ok, a little late)

With temperatures blazing hot in many areas of the northern hemisphere, it’s tempting to conclude that our planet is very close to the sun. Don’t be fooled!

Friday was the day on which Earth was as far away from Sol as it will ever be this year. That day is called the planet’s aphelion.

The planet’s aphelion occurs in early July every year. It does not happen on the same day each year.

The difference between the amount of solar energy Earth receives at aphelion and the amount it receives at perihelion – the point in its orbit where the planet is closest to the sun – is about 3.3 percent. Earth’s seasons cause a larger variability in the amount of solar energy received on the planet’s surface.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, perihelion will next occur on Jan. 4, 2014, while next year’s aphelion will happen on July 4.

aphelion and perihelion - courtesy NASA

Graphic courtesy NASA.

 

 

 

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