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What does Aphelion mean?

What happens when an orbit analyst starts a winery? They give their wine a space-related name, of course!

You can read more about our story in this previous blog post, if you’d like.

We decided to name one of our wines “Aphelion” (pronounced ap-HEE-lee-un), which is the point in an object’s orbit around the sun when it is farthest from the sun. For earth, aphelion occurs each year in early July. This year, it will be at 1:06 p.m. on July 6th. At that time, all of us on earth will be about 94.5 million miles from the sun. Talk about a long road trip!


There is also a name for the point in the earth’s orbit when it is closest to the sun. It’s called “perihelion”.  In 2024, earth’s perihelion will occur on January 2nd when we will be about 91.4 million miles from the sun.

But wait, how can that be?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for us to be closer to the sun in the summer, when it’s hotter, and farther from the sun in the winter?  Well, it’s actually the tilt of the earth that causes our seasons, not how close or far we are from the sun.

Why we have seasons

In the northern hemisphere, we’re tilted towards the sun in June and away from the sun in December.  It’s the opposite for those in the southern hemisphere–that’s why their winter is in June and their summer is in December!

One of my fellow orbit analysts was curious to know what other objects out in space have specific names for the farthest and closest points in orbits around them. We looked it up, and it’s a surprisingly long list!

Here are some of those objects and their related terms, which are based on the Greek names of the celestial objects.


Object Periapsis Apoapsis
Galaxy Perigalacticon Apogalacticon
Black Hole Perimelasma Apomelasma
Star Periastron Apoastron
Sun Perihelion Aphelion
Mercury Perihermion Apohermion
Venus Pericytherion Apocytherion
Earth Perigee Apogee
Moon Periselene Aposelene
Mars Periareion Apoareion
Jupiter Perizene Apozene
Saturn Perikrone Apokrone
Uranus Periuranion Apouranion
Neptune Periposeidion Apoposeidion
Pluto Perihadion Apohadion

Thanks for sticking with us through all this geeky space talk.  At least now you have some cool science facts to share at your next dinner party, with a glass of Aphelion wine in hand.  Brownie points if your party is on July 6, 2023.

If you do have an Aphelion party, please let us know on IG @sakurawinery.

Of course, if you need any wine for that party, there’s always one of our award-winning Aphelion wines.  See more information on each of our wines and order here.