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[per-uh-hee-lee-uh n, -heel-yuh n] /ˌpɛr əˈhi li ən, -ˈhil yən/
noun, plural perihelia
[per-uh-hee-lee-uh, -heel-yuh] /ˌpɛr əˈhi li ə, -ˈhil yə/ (Show IPA).
the point in the orbit of a planet or comet at which it is nearest to the sun.
Compare aphelion.
Origin of perihelion
1660-70; < Greek peri- peri- + hḗli(os) sun + -on neuter noun suffix, on the model of perigee; earlier in the New Latin form perihelium
Related forms
perihelial, perihelian, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for perihelion
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The planet consequently receives nearly three times as much light and heat in perihelion as in aphelion.

    The Asteroids Daniel Kirkwood
  • In the orbit of a planet, means the line joining its aphelion and perihelion.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • That's why we have our golf season while Mars is in his perihelion.

    Olympian Nights John Kendrick Bangs
  • The denser portion of the meteoric stream was then approaching its perihelion.

    Meteoric astronomy: Daniel Kirkwood
  • It entirely escaped observation, both in Europe and America, during its perihelion passage in 1857.

    Comets and Meteors Daniel Kirkwood
  • The perihelion passage of 1456 was, until recently, the earliest known.

    Comets and Meteors Daniel Kirkwood
  • In like manner, if the periodic time is 3325 years, only a small portion of the orbit near the perihelion fulfills it.

    Meteoric astronomy: Daniel Kirkwood
  • The time of a complete revolution of the perihelion is computed at 108,000 years.

  • Newcomb finds the anomalous motion of the perihelion to be even larger (43′ instead of 38′) than Leverrier made it.

British Dictionary definitions for perihelion


noun (pl) -lia (-lɪə)
the point in its orbit when a planet or comet is nearest the sun Compare aphelion
Word Origin
C17: from New Latin perihēlium, from peri- + Greek hēlios sun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for perihelion

"point at which a celestial body is nearest the Sun," 1680s, coined in Modern Latin (perihelium) by Kepler (1596) from Latinizations of Greek peri "near" (see peri-) + helios "sun" (see sol). Subsequently re-Greeked.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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perihelion in Science

The point at which an orbiting object, such as a planet or a comet, is closest to the Sun. Compare aphelion, perigee.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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