Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Aphelion

The Sun is at its farthest in July.
Did you know that today (or actually yesterday to be specific), the Earth was at its farthest point from the Sun, a distance of 94,555,000 miles? Well, now you do, and this fact should go a long way in busting the commonly-held myth that the earth's distance from the sun goes into determining how hot it is at any given time of year, too.
So why do we have seasons? Answer: it's all about the tilt of the Earth relative to the Sun. Right now in the Northern hemisphere, we're tilted toward the Sun, which makes for the Sun taking a long path across the sky, giving it more time to heat up the planet. This is also why seasons are flip flopped in the two hemispheres, wit the Southern Hemisphere just having entered winter.
Okay, since Earth is farthest from the Sun now, when is it nearest? Answer: January 3 wen we are 92,955,807 miles from the Sun. One last point, that 93,000,000 mile statistic that you learned in grade school is just a rounded, average distance.

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