No, the annual aphelion point in Earth’s orbit is not causing cooler temperatures in Indonesia

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An online article said the Southeast Asian country experienced cooler temperatures in July 2018 because the Earth was at its most distant from the sun -- an annual point in its orbit called aphelion. Indonesian space and meteorological officials said the lower-than-average temperatures were in fact a regular occurrence during the dry season as colder air gets pushed up from the southern hemisphere.

News portal TIMES INDONESIA published an article on July 6, 2018 with a headline that translates as: “Indonesia is getting colder because of the aphelion phenomenon.” It gave no sources for the claims made in the report.

On the same day a Facebook post, which has since been liked more than 1,000 times, repeated the claim and warned that the colder weather may trigger health problems for babies and elderly people.

An English translation of the post says: “Please wear thicker clothes. Many people are wondering why it’s getting colder in recent days. The answer is that our earth is at its aphelion point.”

Earth did reach its aphelion point on July 6 but it is not the reason for the temperature drop, says Thomas Djamaluddin, head of Indonesia’s space and aeronautics agency.

“The cooler temperature...happens because during the current dry season wind blows in from the southern hemisphere which is experiencing winter,” he says in a Facebook post.

“The change in distance between the sun and earth is not significant in influencing temperature changes on the earth’s surface.”

Indonesia’s meteorology, climatology and geophysics agency agreed, saying in a statement that cooler temperatures during dry season are a regular occurence, without any link to aphelion.

“The cooler temperature phenomenon is a natural phenomenon that usually happens during the peak months of the dry season, between July and August,” the agency said in a statement.

The question about aphelion causing cooling weather crops up frequently on the Internet. The website accuweather gives a similar answer to the Indonesian experts in this post.