peri·​he·​lion ˌper-ə-ˈhēl-yən How to pronounce perihelion (audio)
plural perihelia ˌper-ə-ˈhēl-yə How to pronounce perihelion (audio)
: the point nearest to the sun in the path of an orbiting celestial body (such as a planet) compare aphelion
perihelial adjective

Examples of perihelion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The answer came out right: his equations predicted the perihelion should drift by about 43 arc seconds per century. Walter Isaacson, Scientific American, 1 Sep. 2015 This year perihelion came at 00:38 UTC on Wednesday, January 3. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, 4 Jan. 2024 The stunning photo and other images were taken during the spacecraft's inaugural close encounter with the sun, known as perihelion, in mid-June and capture a number of new, strange phenomena never before seen on the star at the center of our solar system. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, 16 July 2020 The shower reaches its perihelion – closest approach to the sun – every 33 years. Caitlin O'Kane, CBS News, 16 Nov. 2023 Yet with each go-round (Mercury has an 88-day year), the planet stubbornly appeared out of place during perihelion from where astronomers expected it. Adam Hadhazy, Discover Magazine, 26 Feb. 2015 During summer in the southern hemisphere, Earth’s orbit is closer to the sun and reaches a point called perihelion in early January. Kasha Patel, Anchorage Daily News, 21 July 2023 Periodically the planet will linger close to the perihelion distance—generally for a few thousand years or so. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, 21 July 2023 The objects Trujillo and Shepherd identified all had uncannily similar arguments of perihelion, which could mean they were being shepherded by the gravity of an unseen world. Michael D. Lemonick, Scientific American, 20 Jan. 2016 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'perihelion.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


New Latin, from peri- + Greek hēlios sun — more at solar

First Known Use

1666, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of perihelion was in 1666

Dictionary Entries Near perihelion

Cite this Entry

“Perihelion.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


peri·​he·​lion ˌper-ə-ˈhēl-yən How to pronounce perihelion (audio)
: the point in the path of a heavenly body (as a planet) that is nearest to the sun

More from Merriam-Webster on perihelion

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