Missed Meteors and Getting Closest to the Sun

meteorI missed the first major celestial event of 2020 – The Quadrantids meteor shower which peaked Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Murphy’s Law of Astronomy around here made it rainy and cloudy again. That’s a shame because the Quadrantids are short-lived and known for bright fireball meteors with long, glowing tails.

Poor old constellation Quadrans Muralis (mural quadrant hence the meteors’ name) is one of the former constellations that was demoted, but the meteors continue to shoot out of that quadrant.

sunrise sunset

The second event is unobservable with your eyes. Earth will reach its closest point to the sun for the whole of 2020 on January 4 or 5 (depends on your time zone). It happened today, January 5, at 07:48 UTC (2:48 a.m. Eastern Time) while I was sleeping.

This is what astronomers call perihelion – Greek peri meaning near and helios meaning sun. Shouldn’t it feel warmer if the Sun is “only” 91,398,199 miles (147,091,144 km) away?  Nope. That elliptical orbit has nothing to do with seasons.

In fact, in early July 4, 2020, when the Earth reaches aphelion (most distant point), it will be much hotter here in Paradelle though the Sun will be 94,507,635 miles (152,095,295 km) away from us.

Being 3 million miles closer to the sun today doesn’t seem to make a big difference in our lives – though it seems like it should. It does affect seasonal lengths because right now Earth is moving fastest in its orbit around the Sun. That makes my Northern Hemisphere winter and someone else’s Southern Hemisphere summer the shortest seasons.

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Published by

Ken Ronkowitz

A lifelong educator. Random by design and predictably irrational. It's turtles all the way down. Dolce far niente.

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