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Archive for category Just For Fun January 2015

Happy Perihelion Day!

January 4, 2015 - 06:23 PM
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Ok, so this might be a geeky scientist’s way of celebrating a celestial event (I guess you can call it).

Today marks the ONE day out of the year when the Earth makes its closest approach to the Sun, even though the clouds blocked its rays in D.C.

To put the universe in perspective, the Earth has an elliptical shaped orbit around the Sun. Every year in the beginning of January, the Earth reaches its closest point to the Sun. Today at 1:36 a.m. EST is when that point was reached.

The Earth was 3 million miles CLOSER to the Sun than it will be in July when the Earth is opposite its position to the Sun or farthest from it. This year, that day, called Aphelion, is July 5th (so a reason for another celebration following Independence Day, right?). The exact time this farthest away point from the Sun is reached will be 3:41 p.m. EDT! The Earth will then be 94.5 million miles from the Sun as opposed to early January’s distance of 91.4 million miles.

Earth's distance from the Sun

Since the Northern Hemisphere (all land and ocean north of the Equator) is tilted away from the Sun’s direct rays in January, we still experience winter  despite the "closeness" to the warm Sun. In July, the opposite is true. The Northern Hemisphere is tilted TOWARDS the Sun's direct rays, so despite being 3-million miles farther from the Sun, we still experience summer.

Perihelion isn’t ALWAYS January 4th but it’s always in the very beginning of January. Similarly, Aphelion is not always on July 5th. For a list of dates through 2020, click here.

 

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