The winter nights have well and truly rolled in and are here to stay, meaning we can say goodbye to any sunlight from approximately 4pm onwards.
Fortunately though, we’re not completely in the dark and still get around eight hours of sun (or most likely, rain) throughout the day.
Which is more than one town in Alaska can say, who won’t see any sunlight until early next year, on or around January 23. Talk about January blues!
Utqiaġvik, in northern Alaska, had its last sunrise on Sunday, November 18, and has now descended into 65 days of darkness.
Previously known as Barrow, the town now won’t see any sunlight until January 23 due to the so-called ‘polar night’.
This is because of its close proximity to the Arctic Circle; according to The Weather Channel, the sun doesn’t rise north of the Arctic Circle from mid-November through late January, due to the tilt of the Earth away from the Sun.
They posted to their Twitter account to mark the start of the darkness:
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) November 18, 2018
Because of the tilt of the Earth, areas north of the Arctic Circle – which are situated close to the North Pole – go for more than two months with the sun never ascending above the horizon. Yikes.
It’s not all bad though, as the town won’t be completely dark throughout this time period. Although there’ll be no sunlight, there’ll be sufficient light to see objects outside.
I mean, it’s still not great and considering I struggle to see at the best of times, I don’t think I’ll be moving to Alaska anytime soon.
Amazingly though, the opposite happens in the summer months as the residents of the town do not get to witness a sunset from May until August.
Yep, you heard me right. For more than two months every year, the sun does not set. Again, because of its close proximity to the Arctic Circle.
I’m sorry, is this confusing anyone other than me? How do people get their heads around having, at first, no sunlight for two months, then no sunset? Mind = blown.
— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) August 2, 2017
Utqiaġvik though, is home to more than 4,400 residents so they mustn’t be too perturbed by this yearly change in weather.
According to CBS, around 61 per cent of the city’s population is Iñupiat Eskimo and many still hunt and fish for much of their food.
The town’s name was changed from Barrow, the name of nearby Point Barrow, in 2016. It originally got its name as it was chosen by a Royal Navy officer in the 19th century.
However, as reported by Atlas Obscura, residents voted to permanently change the town’s name to honour indigenous people and the area’s roots.
— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) November 18, 2018
Hence, Utqiaġvik, which refers to a place for gathering of wild roots – staying true to the hunting nature of the town’s residents.
Hopefully the lack of sunlight won’t have any impact on their daily routines and the residents of the town can continue doing what they do best.
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