Earth Reaches Closest Point to the Sun, Offering Skywatchers a Treat

New Delhi | Updated: January 3, 2024 16:02 IST By Science Desk

The Earth, in its elliptical orbit around the Sun, reached its perihelion, the closest point to the star, on Wednesday. While technically, this event makes the Sun appear approximately three percent larger than average, the difference is imperceptible to the human eye. The precise time of perihelion occurred at 6:08 AM IST on January 3, marking the moment when the Earth is nearest to the fiery star in its annual revolution.

The Earth’s orbit, being slightly elliptical rather than perfectly circular, results in a fluctuation of about three percent in the distance between the planet and the Sun throughout the year. Despite the Sun’s subtle enlargement during perihelion, it does not significantly impact the change of seasons, which is primarily influenced by the Earth’s axial tilt.

While the enlarged Sun may not be prominently noticeable during daylight hours, skywatchers have another celestial event to anticipate—a meteor shower that graces the night sky. The Quadrantid meteor shower, active from December 12 to January 12, is set to peak around January 4.

For viewers in New Delhi, the Quadrantids become visible after 12:07 AM each night, coinciding with the rising of the radiant point—the spot in the sky from which the meteor shower seems to originate—above the eastern horizon. The peak is anticipated around 4 PM IST on January 24, offering a spectacular display that continues until 6:46 AM IST the following day. Although Indian viewers may not witness the peak, the meteor shower promises to illuminate the sky in a captivating show.

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