The Northern Hemisphere is still in winter grip, with countries like the United Kingdom facing freezing snow and icy conditions. So some might be surprised to learn that our planet today is actually at its closest point to the Sun throughout the year – a phenomenon known as perihelion.
Perihelion is the exact period in which the Earth’s orbit approaches its closest point to the star of our solar system.
The word “perihelion” is derived from the Greek words “peri” – meaning “near” – and “helios” – meaning “the sun”.
At 1.51 PM GMT on Saturday, January 2, our world is located exactly 91.399453 miles (147.093.162 million km) from the sun.
This is approximately three percent closer than the average, resulting in the Earth receiving more radiation in the form of heat from the sun.
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As a result, the Sun will also be imperceptibly larger in our daytime skies.
And the US space agency NASA said in a statement: “The average distance from Earth to the sun is called an astronomical unit.” [AU]But because our orbit is not a perfect circle, this means that we are sometimes a little closer to the Sun, sometimes farther away.
In fact, the distance between us and the sun varies by about three million miles throughout the year.
“That’s roughly 13 times the distance from Earth to the Moon.
The Earth is known to rotate on an axis called 23.44 degrees – a tilted one that is responsible for allocating the amount of sunlight that each hemisphere receives at different times of the year.
This is in terms of the duration of the days and how low or high the sun is in the sky.
This skew is the main factor responsible for the seasons and the winter solstice.
Somewhat unexpectedly, although perihelion means the Earth is receiving more radiation from the sun, the Earth is in fact at its coldest state during this period.
This is because most of the Southern Hemisphere are oceans that absorb excess heat, eliminating the effect of perihelion.