Do earth's aphelion and perihelion have any noticeable effects?

1 Answer
Oct 29, 2017

Currently the Earth's aphelion and perihelion have little effect.


The Earth's orbit isn't very eccentric. At perihelion, the Earth is about 147,000,000km from the Sun. At aphelion is is about 152,000,000km from the Sun. So, the difference is only about 3%.

Also, perihelion happens around 3 January and aphelion happens around 3 July. At perihelion the Southern hemisphere is in Summer and receives more sunlight due to being slightly closer to the Sun. At aphelion the Northern hemisphere is in Summer.

As the Southern hemisphere is mainly ocean, it retains its heat during the Winter months. In fact the whole planet is a few degrees warmer at aphelion in July than it is at perihelion in January!

The apses are precessing. This means that perihelion is getting later by about a day every 70 years. In about 12,000 years, perihelion will be in the Northern hemisphere Summer. When this happens the effect of perihelion and aphelion will be much more noticeable.