Home > Earth, Ephemeris Program, Seasons > 01/03/2022 – Ephemeris – We’re the closest we get to the Sun of the whole year today

01/03/2022 – Ephemeris – We’re the closest we get to the Sun of the whole year today

January 3, 2022

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, January 3rd, 2022. The Sun will rise at 8:20. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 5:14. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 6:14 this evening.

Today we are as close to the Sun as we’ll get for the rest of the year. The Earth will reach the perihelion point in its orbit at 7:59 this evening, at only 91.4 million miles. Since this is only a million and a half miles closer than average, it doesn’t affect the amount of heat the Earth as a whole gets from the Sun. But, since the Earth moves faster at perihelion than at any other time of the year, it makes winter the shortest season. Winter at 89 days is nearly 4 days shorter than the longest season, summer. I know, it doesn’t seem like it, but we live in Northern Michigan, and seemingly long winters come with the territory. January’s only major meteor shower, the Quadrantids, reaches peak at about 4 pm today. It reaches and falls off-peak rapidly, so we won’t have an impressive Quadrantid meteor shower this year.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Earth's orbit

The Earth’s orbit, somewhat exaggerated, showing perihelion and the seasons. Credit: “Starts with a Bang” blog by Ethan Siegel.

Illustration of Kepler's 2nd Law

Kepler’s Second Law of Planetary Motion: the imaginary line joining a planet and the Sun sweeps equal areas of space during equal time intervals as the planet orbits. Credit: NASA, a screen capture from a video Solar Systems Dynamics-Orbits and Kepler’s Laws.

A note on the naming of the Quadrantid meteor shower. Meteor showers get their names from the constellation or nearby star where the meteor seem to come from at their peak. That point is called the radiant. The Quadrantids were named because they came from a constellation called the Mural Quadrant, back when the shower was discovered. The Mural Quadrant didn’t make the modern list of 88 constellations. The area where the Mural Quadrant resided is an area between northern Boötes, Draco and the handle of the Big Dipper.

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