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On Wednesday, the Earth will be closest to the Sun. Perihelion in 2024. When is it, what is this phenomenon?

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On the night from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Earth will pass through a point called perihelion. This means that it will be as close to our day star as possible. The distance from the Sun will be 147.1 million kilometers.

The Earth’s orbit goes around the Sun. On average, we are about 150 million kilometers away from this star. However, Earth’s orbit is not perfectly circular. It is slightly flattened, creating an ellipse, and thus we can distinguish the point closest to and the point furthest from the Sun.

The deviation from Earth’s circular orbit is small, so it has no practical effect on the seasons. Here, the inclination of our planet’s rotation axis relative to the orbital plane is of key importance. The best example to illustrate these issues is the fact that the Earth is at the point closest to the Sun (called perihelion) at the beginning of January, i.e. when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Perihelion in 2024. When will it happen?

This year, our planet will pass through the perihelion point on January 3 at night, when it will be 1:39 am in Poland.

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What will be the distance? Astronomers call the average Earth-Sun distance an astronomical unit and abbreviate it as au. It is approximately 150 million kilometers, or more precisely, approximately 149.598 million km. However, at perihelion the distance will be 0.9833419 au, or approximately 147.106 million km. So this is just over two million kilometers less than the average Earth-Sun distance.

However, there are planets whose orbits are much more different from circular ones. An example is Mars, with an average distance from the Sun of 228 million km (1.53 AU). This planet can approach the Sun at 207 million km (1.38 AU) and away from it at 249 million km (1.67 AU).

Main photo source: buradaki/Shutterstock (illustrative photo)

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