Posts shared on Facebook in Africa and Europe claim that a cosmological event called the “Aphelion Phenomenon” has been causing extremely cold weather on Earth since July 4, 2022 and will continue to do so until August 22, 2022 due to the greater distance to the Sun . The posts also claim that the event will cause people to get sick. But that’s wrong: Two astronomers told AFP Fact Check the aphelion is an annual event that doesn’t affect Earth’s temperature or human health.
“They call it the APHELION PHENOMENON. If most of us have noticed the cold weather. This started last month and will last until August 22nd (see)reads a post on Facebook published in Nigeria on July 6, 2022.
Screenshot showing the wrong post, taken on July 29, 2022
The aphelion forms when Earth is furthest from the Sun — typically about 152 million kilometers away. Typically, the distance from one to the other is about 150 million kilometers.
The post adds that people will experience extremely cold weather, more than usual, due to aphelion, and the fluctuation “could” cause flu-related illnesses to rise.
The same claim was also shared in Kenya in English and in Europe in Spanish and Portuguese.
But this is wrong.
The phenomenon does not affect the temperatures
Astronomers Genevieve Soucail and Andrea Sánchez, speaking to AFP Fact Check in Uruguay, said the aphelion, an annual event that occurred on July 4, 2022 this year, has no impact on Earth’s temperature and human health.
Screenshot of the image showing the Aphelion 2021. Photo: NASA
Sanchez said that while it’s true that the distance between the Earth and the Sun changes during aphelion, “the change is very minimal” and not significant enough to have an impact on our global temperature.
“Every year we experience an aphelion,” Sánchez said, and “there’s always confusion: [people] believe that the seasons are affected by the distance between the earth and the sun, but this is not the case”.
The transition to aphelion or perihelion (the point on the orbit of an orbiting body closest to the sun) “creates a small difference in luminous flux [received by the Earth]but that’s very small and not at all related to weather differences,” Soucail said.
According to the two experts, changes in seasonal temperatures occur because of fluctuations in solar radiation — that’s the solar energy that reaches Earth — resulting from the tilt of our planet’s axis of rotation.
This “specifies that during a particular season [the planet] receives more solar radiation in its southern hemisphere and during another; [the same phenomenon applies] to the northern hemisphere,” said Sánchez.
Soucail said that “average summer temperatures are higher in the northern hemisphere than in the southern hemisphere,” even though “earth is farther from the sun in summer in the northern hemisphere and … perihelion is reached when it is summer in the southern hemisphere.” “
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed to AFP Fact Check on July 1, 2022 that it has not published any studies on Aphelion and its possible health consequences.