perihelion

noun
peri·he·lion | \ˌper-ə-ˈhēl-yən \
plural perihelia\ˌper-ə-ˈhēl-yə \

Definition of perihelion 

: the point nearest to the sun in the path of an orbiting celestial body (such as a planet) — compare aphelion

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from perihelion

perihelial \ˌper-ə-ˈhēl-yəl \ adjective

Examples of perihelion in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Mars’ orbit is more elliptical than Earth’s, so the difference between perihelion and aphelion is greater. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Mars is going to be really bright for the rest of the summer," 11 July 2018 Over the past centuries, Mars’ orbit has been getting more and more elongated, carrying the planet even nearer to the sun at perihelion and even farther away at aphelion. Dave Epstein, BostonGlobe.com, "Mars is going to be really bright for the rest of the summer," 11 July 2018 Lescarbault’s sightings were never confirmed, and the perihelion precession of Mercury remained a puzzle for nearly six more decades. Katia Moskvitch, WIRED, "Troubled Times for Alternatives to Einstein’s Theory of Gravity," 6 May 2018 After orbiting the Earth for 6 hours, a third-stage burn-to-depletion was completed at approximately 02:30 UTC Feb 7, placing the dummy payload in a heliocentric orbit having a perihelion of 0.99 au and aphelion ~1.7 au. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "We Know Exactly Where Musk’s Space Tesla Is Going," 8 Feb. 2018 The Roadster and its mannequin driver -- known as Starman -- then will fall back toward the inner solar system, picking up speed as they near the low point of the orbit, or perihelion, on Aug. 15, 2019. William Harwood, CBS News, "Elon Musk's Tesla Roadster won't hit Earth anytime soon," 14 Feb. 2018 Each year, during wintertime in the northern hemisphere, the Earth reaches its closest point to the sun, or perihelion, and during the northern hemisphere summer the Earth hits the farthest point from the sun, or aphelion. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "One Day There Will Be No More Total Solar Eclipses," 18 Aug. 2017 Probe 1, the Pre-Perihelion Probe, would pass Halley on 8 December 1985, 63 days before the comet reached perihelion on 9 February 1986. David S. F. Portree, WIRED, "A Strategy for Comet Missions in the 1980s (1974)," 4 Aug. 2013

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perihelion.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of perihelion

1666, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for perihelion

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about perihelion

Share perihelion

Dictionary Entries near perihelion

perigynial

perigynium

perigynous

perihelion

perijove

perikaryon

peril

Statistics for perihelion

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for perihelion

The first known use of perihelion was in 1666

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on perihelion

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about perihelion

Comments on perihelion

What made you want to look up perihelion? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

to reject or criticize sharply

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!