Earth is at its farthest distance from the Sun today

(ORDO NEWS) — The Earth is at aphelion, the position in its orbit that is farthest from the Sun.

The solar system consists of eight planets, not counting the unfortunate Pluto, each of which revolves around the Sun in their own orbits, separated by millions and billions of kilometers in space. July 4 marks a special day for the Earth, which goes into aphelion.

Aphelion is the position at which the distance between the Sun and the Earth is greatest. The two objects in space are separated by almost 152.1 million kilometers, which is almost 1.67 percent farther from the Sun than the average distance between the Earth and the Sun.

The average distance between the Earth and the Sun is known as the astronomical unit (AI), where 1 AU equals 149.6 million kilometers. There are only two days when the distance between the Sun and the Earth is either the farthest or the closest.

Although it was long believed that the Earth moved around the Sun in a circular orbit, it was not until the 17th century that the German astronomer Johannes Kepler calculated a unique elliptical orbit. The orbit brings the Earth either to the farthest point of its revolution around the Sun, or to the closest one.

The unique path is due to the gravitational influence of other planetary objects, especially the Moon. According to EarthSky, almost every 100,000 years, the Earth’s orbital path changes from nearly circular to elliptical. Because of this phenomenon, the Earth experiences aphelion and perihelion.

While perihelion occurs about two weeks after the December solstice, aphelion occurs two weeks after the June solstice, when it is summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

The two words “perihelion” and “aphelion” were taken from ancient Greek, where “peri” means “near”, “apo” means “far”, and “Helios” means the Sun. Together, these two positions are known as apses – the points of least or greatest distance of a celestial object in orbit around another astronomical body.

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