The Earth will reach its aphelion today at 11 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time. This is the point in the planet’s elliptical orbit where it is farthest from the Sun.
Today, the Earth is about 152 million kilometers away from its nearest star. That is approximately 5 million kilometers further than during the perihelion in early January. The exact date of the aphelion differs from year to year, but it’s usually in early July.
The planet’s distance from the Sun does not cause the seasons, but it does influence their length. As a function of gravity, the closer the planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves. So, at the aphelion, the Earth will move more slowly along its orbital path than at any other time of the year. As a result, summer is elongated by a few days in the northern hemisphere.
The word, aphelion, is Greek for “away from sun”.
Image Credit: astronomy.edu.au