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Aphelion and Perihelion

The Earth's Elliptical Orbit Around the Sun

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The Sun

The sun unleashed a record solar flare in November 2003.

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The 2013 perihelion is around 05:00 UTC on January 2, 2013 and the aphelion is around July 5, 2013 at 15:00 UTC. In 2014 the perihelion is around 12:00 UTC on January 4, 2014 and the aphelion is around 00:00 on July 4, 2014.

The earth's orbit around the sun is not a circle. The earth's orbit around the sun is slightly elliptical. Therefore, the distance between the earth and the sun varies throughout the year.

At its nearest point on the ellipse that is the earth's orbit around the sun, the earth is 91,445,000 miles (147,166,462 km) from the sun. This point in the earth's orbit is known as perihelion and it occurs around January 3.

The earth is farthest away from the sun around July 4 when it is 94,555,000 miles (152,171,522 km) from the sun. This point in the earth's orbit is called aphelion.

The slight ellipse in the earth's orbit does have a slight impact on the amount of solar energy being received by the earth. This 3.3% difference in distance does not impact the earth as much as the seasonal variations, however.

Scientists utilize the average distance from the earth to the sun as the standard for one astronomical unit (1 AU). This average distance from the earth to the sun is 92,955,807 miles (149,597,870.691 km). It takes light from the sun about 8.317 minutes to reach the earth.

The earth takes 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds (365.242199 days) to make a full revolution around the sun.

Future and past aphelion and perihelion dates and times are available on the U.S. Naval Observatory website.

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