Today the Earth is closest to the Sun, a point called perihelion. We will be about 147,098,290km (91,402,639miles) from the Sun. Compare this to the 152,098,232km (94,509,459miles) we will be at aphelion on July 4th, a difference of about 5,411,169km (3,362,344miles) occurs throughout one orbit.

It may seem odd that we are actually at the closest for the middle of northern winter, you just have to remember that proximity to the Sun is not the cause of the seasons. The seasons are caused by the axial tilt of the Earth, creating short and long days throughout the year, with a resulting change in the angle and intensity of the sunlight.

2012 Solstices and Equinoxes
Perihelion Jan 5 03:59UT Jan 4 17:59HST
Spring Equinox Mar 20 05:14UT Mar 19 19:14HST
Summer Solstice Jun 20 23:09UT Jun 20 13:09HST
Apehelion Jul 4 23:59UT Jul 4 13:59HST
Fall Equinox Sep 22 14:49UT Sep 22 04:49HST
Winter Solstice Dec 21 11:12UT Dec 21 01:12HST
Source: USNO Data Services Website and the NASA Sky Calendar


Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

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