Perihelion (a.k.a. perigee, paraphernalia, periwhatsit?)

"What's this perihelion day thing all about?"

Once a year, in early January, the earth reaches the closest point in its orbit around the sun. Astronomers call this moment perihelion, and I decided for myself that perihelion was at least as well worth celebrating as any of those better known December holidays. That's all. Perihelion 2002 happened at 14:00 UT on January 2nd. I hope you enjoyed it!

I do a few simple things to observe perihelion, but no rituals of mass consumption (so far at least). Since I consider this the true beginning of my year, it's a great time to spend a few days renewing contact with as many old friends and family as possible. Everyone else's holiday parties are finally done, so I mostly just send out e-mails or make phone calls. Most important, I try to spend a few moments thinking of times I spent with each person in the past. My friends know that I'm not big on planning for the future, or following through on such plans, but at least I've made up my mind not to let old times slip away into forgetfulness.


earth-sun calendar 1992-2005, from U.S. Naval Observatory

article from NASA Science News, perihelion 2001