TechEarth swings closest to the sun: Winter anomaly explained

Earth swings closest to the sun: Winter anomaly explained

Sun and Earth
Sun and Earth
Images source: © Pixabay | pixabay

7:53 AM EST, January 3, 2024

The path the Earth takes around the sun places the Earth an average of 93 million miles away from the sun. However, this orbit is not a perfect circle. Instead, it's slightly flattened, forming an ellipse. This alteration allows for a point in the earth's orbit to be identified as being the closest to the sun (perihelion) and an end being the farthest away.

Earth's approach to the sun

Despite the Earth's orbit not being a complete circle, the deviation from a circular shape is minor and doesn't significantly influence seasonal changes. These shifts in seasons are dependent on the tilt of the earth's rotational axis as it is relative to the plane of its orbit. Interestingly, Earth is closest to the Sun at the start of every January, which coincides with winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Like every other year, in 2024, the Earth will reach the perihelion point on January 2, precisely at 7:39 pm Eastern Time.

How far away will the Earth be from the Sun at this point? The average distance, referred to as an astronomical unit (AU), is approximately 93 million miles, or more accurately, 92,955,807.3 miles. At perihelion, this distance will shrink to 0.9833419 AU, which equals roughly 91,403,978 miles. This means that at this point, the Earth will be a little over 1.24 million miles closer to the Sun than average.

However, it's important to note that some planets have more pronounced deviations from a circular orbit. For example, Mars has an average distance from the Sun of roughly 141.6 million miles (1.53 AU). This planet's distance from the Sun can decrease to 128.7 million miles (1.38 AU) and increase to as much as 154.7 million miles (1.67 AU).

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