Earth and Sky
3:01 pm
Fri July 5, 2013

Earth is farthest from the sun on Friday

The sun is the furthest from the Earth it will be this year, but NASA expert Patrick Wiggins said distance is not what affects the seasons.

Though it may not feel like it, Friday marks the day when the Earth will be farthest from the sun this year.
Patrick Wiggins is NASA's ambassador to Utah, and said the distance won't make much of a difference to global temperatures.

"The earth's orbit around the sun is actually nearly circular," Wiggins said. "It's not like some things that sometimes are really close and other times are much further away. Coming up this Friday when we're furthest, it's like 152 million kilometers, verses in January when it's 147 million kilometers. So five million in all of that, it's hardly worth counting."

What does make a difference, and what brings changes to Earth's seasons, is the tilt of the earth.

"Anyone who's seen an earth globe knows that the earth is tilted. This time of year, we just happen to be tilted toward the sun, that puts the sun much higher in the sky, and it stays there much longer. Not only is it up there beaming down on us more directly, but it's got more time to cook us, because it's in the sky a lot longer than in the wintertime," Wiggins said.

January marked the time when the Earth was closest to the sun this year. Wiggins said the changes in distance on Friday won't be visible to the naked- or better yet, protected- eye.