Is the Weather Warmest When the Earth Is Closest to the Sun?
Surprisingly, the earthâ€™s distance from the sun has nothing to do with weather!
The earthâ€™s path around the sun is not a perfect circle, but an ellipse, or egg shape. The earth is actually nearest the sun around January 2, when itâ€™s â€œonlyâ€ 91,402,000 miles away. This point is called the perihelion. At the earthâ€™s aphelion, or farthest point from the sun, itâ€™s 94,510,000 miles away. And this point falls around July 5.
Why is our weather coldest when the earth is closest to the sun? Because weather is determined mostly by the tilt of the earthâ€™s axis at various times of the year.
When itâ€™s winter here, the earth is tilted in such a way that much of the sunâ€™s radiation reaches us at an angle, and bounces off our atmosphere. In summer, the sunâ€™s rays reach us more directly, and therefore the weather is warmer. Also, in winter the days are shorter, and much of the sunâ€™s heat is reflected off the earth by snow.
The earth doesnâ€™t travel around the sun at a constant speed, either; the speed varies at different points in the earthâ€™s orbit!