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Why wasn't it nice and warm on 4 January?
Every year, the Earth actually makes its closest approach to the Sun in early January, when it is winter here in the northern hemisphere. This year, it happened at 16:23 Central European Time on 4 January - at that time the Earth and the Sun were "just" 147 million kilometres apart (at the top right of the image). In early July, the Earth reaches the most distant point in its orbit around the Sun (at the bottom left of the image). The distance between the Earth and the Sun is then about 152 million kilometres, while at the same time it is midsummer in these latitudes. This means that the seasonal differences in temperatures cannot be caused by the separation between the Earth and the Sun.
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Last update: 19/01/2009 13:06:25