Archive for the ‘solstice’ Tag

Path to the midnight sun starts today: After six months of descent into darkness, Fairbanks is gaining light again – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials   Leave a comment

Path to the midnight sun starts today: After six months of descent into darkness, Fairbanks is gaining light again – Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Editorials.

Posted December 24, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Gaining Daylight   6 comments

When I was a kid my mom had a saying that made no sense to me. “You’re burning daylight.” Maybe it was because she never seemed to use it in the winter. It was her catch-all complaint in the summer when we were weeding the garden or picking berries. It meant I was, in her opinion, wasting time.

The thing about daylight in the Alaska summer is that it’s pretty limitless. You will fall asleep standing up before it gets dark.

Not so in December and January. December 2o, 21, and 22 the sun rides a thumb’s width above the southern horizon for only about 3 1/2 hours a day. From Thanksgiving on, you have a sense of doom as each daylight period is 6-7 minutes shorter than the day before. On Christmas we were gaining a minute a day, by New Year’s we were gaining two minutes. Now we’re seeing 6-7 minutes more every day than the day before. You can literally see the days getting longer.

Oddly January and February are usually our coldest months. But they’re months with hope because we know that the sun will eventually get high enough in the sky that it will defeat winter.

Posted January 7, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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Strange Tales Under the Midnight Sun   Leave a comment

It’s the solstice in Alaska — a strange time when the sun doesn’t go down and this year it’s hot, HOT, HOT! I declared this “Vitamin D Saturday”and have been hanging out on my deck, coating myself liberally with sun screen. I’ve got a good book, a nice glass of lemonade and … a neighbor who is doing construction. Go figure!

Last night we drove 25 miles out of town to watch the sun from a 3000-foot pass. At 1:00 am, it finally dipped beneath the horizon. The north-by-northwest sky turned a pretty pearly blue with pink streaks. We drove back to town in the twilight time. You could have still read a book and we needed no headlights. As we got ready for bed at 2:30 am, the north-by-northeast sky blushed a deep scarlet and I fell asleep watching the sun rise.

Posted June 23, 2013 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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A Glimpse of My World   Leave a comment

Two weeks ago, it was snowing while we were picking out maple trees to plant. Two days later, we broke 40 degrees for the first time in 2013. Last Saturday we turned the garden and discovered frozen ground just 18 inches deep. The next day it was 102 degrees on our front deck where the 80 degree sun bounces off the light-colored paint. This week it was 80 degrees or more every day. Today, it was nearly 100 on the deck before I got too busy to pay attention.

Last Saturday, our trees were still in ice nap — just starting to set buds. Today, the trees are in full leaf.

This was an unusual spring in Alaska. It was about three weeks late; it lasted two days and then it was summer. Alaskans are used to weird weather. That’s what comes of living in an extreme climate. Last year spring came three weeks early. Next year … who knows?

The reason I share this with you is that there are so many in the world who want us to believe that the sky is falling. Unless you live in Oklahoma or Kansas this summer, it probably isn’t. Weather happens. Relax. Adapt. Build a storm shelter if you live in tornado alley. Buy a wood stove and stock up on birch if you live in Alaska. The world has been turning on its axis for a very long, long time and our ancestors were no more in control of the weather than we are. Accept that and get on with your life.

I’m taking a nice glass of lemonade out to the deck where it will still be 75 and sunny at 10 pm. Midnight sun, don’t you know? In fact, the photo of the park above was taken about 8 pm on a June evening. The sun was in the west, right about where the sun would set if we were in Seattle. Instead, the sun was two hand-breadths above the horizon. At about 11:30 pm, on the summer solstice (June 20-22), the sun dips below the northern horizon for 2 1/2 hours a night. It doesn’t get dark. You can still play softball or hike at midnight. About about 2 am, the sun come back up. I call it “sun dip”. The Alaska Goldpanners play a double-header entirely without artificial light on solstice eve. I saw the great Bob Boone (back when he was an unknown) hit a grand slam once right at the stroke of midnight. Just look at that sky at midnight!

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