Aphelion: The Earth was the farthest away from the sun Thursday afternoon
The Earth reached its farthest point from the sun and it was one of the hottest days of the year.
The Earth reached aphelion, or its farthest point from the sun, at preciously 4:06 p.m. on Thursday. This was just over 94 million miles.
The Earth’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, but an ellipse. At one point it’s slightly closer to the sun and at another, it’s slightly farther. These points are six months apart and take place in early January and early July. The dates range a bit but can shift by about four days. The distance differs by just over 3 million miles. While this difference seems large to us, on an astronomical scale, it’s rather small.
Now what about the heat? How is the Earth farthest from the sun, yet it’s so hot? This has to do with the axial tilt. Without it, Earth wouldn’t have seasons.
With a tilt of 23.5 degrees, the part of the Earth that is receiving direct sunlight would be the warmest and right now that is the Northern Hemisphere. In another six months, Earth will be on the opposite side and approximately 3 million miles closer but tilted away from the sun.