In its orbit, the Earth is at its furthest distant point from the Sun, known as aphelion. Here is all you need to know about this occurrence.
The solar system consists of eight planets, excluding Pluto, separated by millions and billions of kilometers in the blackness of space as they round the Sun in their respective orbits. The 4th of July is a momentous day for Earth as it enters aphelion.
At aphelion, the distance between the Sun and Earth is at its greatest. The distance between the two objects in space is about 152.1 million kilometers, which is approximately 1.67 percent more than the average distance between the Earth and the sun.
The average distance between the Earth and Sun is measured in Astronomical Units (AU), where 1 AU equals 149,6 million kilometers. There are two days in the calendar when the Sun’s distance from Earth is either the greatest or the smallest.
It was not until the 17th century that Johannes Kepler, a German astronomer, discovered the peculiar elliptical orbit of the Earth. Previously, it was thought that the Earth travelled in a circle orbit around the Sun. The Earth’s unique orbit leads to either the furthest or closest point in its journey around the Sun.
The course is unique owing to the gravitational impacts of other celestial bodies, particularly the Moon. According to EarthSky, the Earth’s orbital path changes from almost circular to elliptical about every 100,000 years. This phenomenon causes the Earth to undergo aphelion and perihelion.
While the perihelion occurs around two weeks after the winter solstice, the aphelion occurs approximately two weeks after the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. Both perihelion and aphelion derive from ancient Greek, where peri means near, apo means far, and Helios denotes the Sun. Together, these two places are referred to as apsides, which are the points of minimum or maximum distance between a celestial body in orbit and another astronomical body.