Monday, January 04, 2010

Periapsis 2010: The Earth Gets Close to the Sun

At "exactly" 00:00 UTC (Midnight London, England time) the Earth was only 91.3 million miles (147 million kilometers) away from the Sun. This moment, called the periapsis, is the closet the Earth gets to the Sun. During the aphelion, biggest distance between Earth and Sun, the distance is 94.4 million miles (152 million kilometers).

Some in the Northern Hemisphere may wonder why winter is currently going on when the Earth is so close. Others may guess that the Southern Hemisphere is thought of as so warm because the planet is so close during its summer. The answer to these false thoughts is in the Earth's tilt and geography. It is winter in the Northern Hemisphere because that half of Terra is leaning away from Sol. Meanwhile, the Southern Hemisphere land temperature averages are warmer because of the greater water to land ratio and the general lacking of continental climates compared to the Northern Hemisphere.

Now the Earth begins its months long journey away of the Sun along its elliptical orbit. This year's aphelion will be on July 6. Then the planet marches back towards the Sun continuing the billions of years long cycle.

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