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Earth at Perihelion – January 4, 2023

Earth at Perihelion is observed two weeks after the December Solstice, which falls on January 3 or 4 every year — January 4 this year. On this day, the Earth is at the point in its orbit where it is closest to the Sun. The difference is not significant enough to affect the weather, so it remains winter in the northern hemisphere of the earth, and summer in the southern hemisphere. Earth reaching Perihelion is a normal occurrence that happens year after year without anything of significance being noted. However, it is still a day to celebrate all the great things about our favorite star — the Sun.

History of Earth at Perihelion

Earth at Perihelion is observed two weeks after the December Solstice. This is the day when the Earth reaches the part of its orbit when it is closest to the Sun.

Earth reaching its Perihelion is a regular part of its revolution around the Sun. Perihelion is derived from the Greek words ‘peri’, meaning near, and ‘Helios’, who was the Greek God of the Sun. The word essentially means close to the Sun. The opposite of Perihelion is Aphelion, which is the point in the Earth’s orbit when it is furthest away from the Sun. Earth at Aphelion occurs during the July solstice.

While Earth at Perihelion is a natural occurrence that does not result in any evident changes in the Earth’s climate, it is a day to understand the planetary phenomenon and the importance of the Sun. The Sun is a yellow dwarf star that is at the center of our solar system. It has existed for more than 4.5 billion years and will continue to exist for about the same length of time. Light from the Sun radiates from its photosphere and reaches the Earth. This is what makes life on Earth possible.

The Sun keeps the Earth in orbit. The light radiated from the Sun helps plants to develop sugars to survive through photosynthesis, thereby producing oxygen and leading to the evolution of life as we know it. The distance between the Earth and the Sun is crucial for the evolution and development of life. Any closer, and it would be too hot for life to flourish. In a few billion years, as the Sun becomes a Red Dwarf star, the heat from the sun will increase and all the water on the Earth will be boiled away. This will make the planet inhospitable to live on.

Earth at Perihelion timeline

4,500 Million Years Ago
The Earth is Formed

The Earth and the other planets in the solar system develop from the leftover gas and nebula from the Sun.

3,500 Million Years Ago
Life Evolves on Earth

The first life evolves on Earth and includes bacteria that developed photosynthesis.

3,000 — 1,000 Million Years Ago
Oxygen is Introduced Into the Atmosphere

The Great Oxygenation Event causes organic matter and iron to accumulate in the atmosphere.

1960s
NASA Launches Orbiting Observatories

NASA launches the Orbiting Solar Observatory to study the Sun from the Earth’s orbit.

Earth at Perihelion FAQs

Why does the Earth not get warmer at Perihelion?

The weather on the Earth is affected by the tilt of the Earth’s axis, not its orbit.

Is Earth at Perihelion a holiday?

No, but you can take some time to celebrate the day anyway!

Can you look at the Sun on Perihelion?

Never look at the Sun directly. Use a mechanism like a pinhole camera or other sun-safe devices. Sunglasses are not safe to use to look at the Sun.

Earth at Perihelion Activities

  1. Make a pinhole camera

    Catch a safe glimpse of the Sun while the Earth is close to it by making a pinhole camera. Use foil and cardstock to put one together and project an image of the Sun on a screen.

  2. Learn more about the Sun

    Earth at Perihelion is a great day to educate yourself about our Solar System and the star that keeps all the planets in orbit. Get researching and watch documentaries about the Sun.

  3. Start a conversation

    Earth at Perihelion is a cool, but little-known fact about the Solar System. Pull out this fact at parties on this day to start a fun conversation!

5 Facts About Earth At Perihelion That You Probably Didn’t Know

  1. The Earth is still far

    The distance between the Earth and the Sun at Perihelion is 91 million miles.

  2. We are only 3% closer

    The difference between the Earth’s distance from the Sun usually and at Perihelion is only a 3% increase.

  3. The Earth revolves fastest at Perihelion

    The Earth revolves at about 0.6 miles per second faster at Perihelion than at Aphelion, when the Sun is furthest from the Earth.

  4. There is a difference in solar energy

    During Perihelion the Earth receives 7% more solar energy than when the Earth is at other points in its orbit.

  5. Other planets also have a Perihelion

    As long as they are in orbit, the other planets will also have points in their orbit when they are closest to the Sun.

Why We Love Earth at Perihelion

  1. We think space is cool

    We love the idea of being closer to the Sun. The movement of planetary systems is quite fascinating to us!

  2. We want to learn more about planets

    Planets, their formation, and orbits are all a mystery to us. We want to learn more about how the solar system and the planets work.

  3. We are grateful to the Sun

    We think this is a great day to practice gratitude for all the things we have because of the Sun. We are grateful to be alive!

Earth at Perihelion dates

YearDateDay
2022January 4Tuesday
2023January 4Wednesday
2024January 3Wednesday
2025January 4Saturday
2026January 3Saturday

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