The Paradox Of Distance

The Earth’s orbit is stretched a little bit. You could call it egg shaped and not be far off. On top of that the Sun isn’t in the center of the ‘egg!’

I want to exercise my geekiness a little today. This is a significant day from a scientific standpoint. Earlier this afternoon Earth was at perihelion–its closest distance from the Sun.

Most people think the Earth’s orbit around the Sun is circular. Bzzzzzzzzzz. Wrong.

The Earth’s orbit is actually stretched a bit. Call it egg shaped. You won’t be far off. On top of that the Sun isn’t in the center of the ‘egg!’

This afternoon we were 91,402,500 miles from the Sun. At our farthest point in early July we’ll be 94,509,130 miles distant.

Obviously this has little effect on our temperature. This time of year we’re at our coldest.

The relative difference between summer and winter temperatures doesn’t come from solar distance but rather the elevation of the Sun in the sky. It’s higher in the summer. Its rays cut through less atmosphere to heat the ground. It is more efficient.

Where the Earth’s distance does affect us is the length of the seasons. They’re not equal!

Winter 88.994 days
Spring 92.758 days
Summer 93.651 days
Autumn 89.842 days

Here in the Northern Hemisphere spring and summer are a full week longer than fall and winter. No complaint from me there!

Sometimes when I write really dweeby or nerdy blog entries my wife will read the first few sentences then bail. There’s no chance she’s still reading now!