I know that what causes seasons in earth is the tilt of the earth and the fact that sun rays reach the earth from different angles during winter and summer, but why doesn't the temperature of the earth increase when the earth is at the closet point to the sun?

Other planets that are close to the sun like mercury, are very hot while others further away are cold so distance from the sun has to affect the planets temperature.

So can you explain why the distance from the sun doesn't affect the Earth's temperature?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ One exposition telescoper.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/perihelion-and-the-seasons $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Commented May 21, 2021 at 12:42
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Actually it affects, but not much due to relatively small value of difference perihelium and aphelion. Nevertheless we take it into account in our simulations of heat flow by sun radiation. $\endgroup$ Commented May 21, 2021 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ Hi Kt hamil. Did you try to do a back-of-an-envelope-calculation? $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic
    Commented May 23, 2021 at 8:01

2 Answers 2


So can you explain why the distance from the sun doesn't affect the Earth's temperature?

It does affect the earth's temperature but the magnitude of this is fairly negligible. The aphelion is about 152 million kms and perihelion is about 147 million kms. So , earth is only about 3% closer at perihelion than aphelion. Hence, the difference is not very significant in this context


One explanation is that perihelion occurs when the sun is near the southern solstice. The southern hemisphere has much more ocean and much less land than the northern hemisphere. The additional water in the southern oceans moderates the temperature swings which offsets any small variation in temperature perihelion causes.


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