Jul 05 2012

Aphelion Today

Published by at 5:30 am under Weather & Sky

Today the Earth reaches its furthest point from the Sun in its annual orbit.  This is Earth’s aphelion, position 1 above.

It’s a source of wonder to me that this happens at our hottest time of year.  Shouldn’t aphelion cool things off?

Apparently not by much.  The orbit determines Earth’s livability but has far less affect on temperature than the composition of our atmosphere and the tilt of the earth’s axis.  Right now the northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun and we certainly feel it.

If we had the data and computer horsepower we could prove aphelion’s effect on climate because it hasn’t always occurred in July.

According to Wikipedia, “On a very long time scale, the dates of perihelion and aphelion progress through the seasons and make one complete cycle in 22,000 to 26,000 years. There is a corresponding movement of the position of the stars as seen from Earth that is called the apsidal precession.”

So, hey, if you’re around 12,000 years from now, aphelion will happen in December.

It’s something to look forward to.

(drawing of aphelion and perihelion by Peasron Scott Foresman via Wikimedia Commons)

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Aphelion Today”

  1. Steve Valasekon 06 Jul 2012 at 9:57 am

    Great post, and your graphic exaggerates the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit a great deal.

    It’s been 100-110F out here the past month or so. Yesterday I saw an Osprey wading in a flooded field for no apparent reason other than it looked hot. I didn’t have my camera with me though.

    Happy Summer!

  2. Kate St. Johnon 06 Jul 2012 at 10:07 am

    Hot here too! I’ve been in Virginia Beach for the past couple of days. It was 102degrees in the parking lot, 99 degrees in the shade yesterday. It is really too hot to enjoy the ocean. Erf!

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