Friday, June 21, 2013

My Eternal Obsession with the Midnight Sun

Today, in the United States, it is the first day of summer.  In some areas of Alaska, they have 24 hours of light.  In Fairbanks, Alaska, they will be holding the Midnight Sun baseball game - played without any artificial light - first pitch at 10:30 pm.

A lot of famous baseball players (before they got to the majors) played for the Alaska Goldpanners - including Hall of Famer (and former New York Met) Tom Seaver.  Watch him get the last out in the 1965 Midnight Sun game and see if you don't get chills.  I do.  Repeat after yourself:  this is near midnight.  This is near midnight.  Time for my annual and eternl obsession with....(Please be sure to read the update at the end of this post).

Eternal Sunsets of the Spotting Mind(from one of my early blog posts.)

 When I was growing up in the Bronx,I used to have dreams about living in a place where the sun never set. In these dreams, sometimes the sun would set, but it would be very late at night. I would gaze out my window at 11pm (in my dream) and it would still be light. Sometimes, though, it was dark all the time. I would look at the stars, and they were different. This would, for some reason, frighten me.

When I found out that there were, indeed places which had 24 hour light and 24 hour dark depending on the time of year, I began to wonder about what it would truly be like to see the sun at midnight, or experience total darkness.

As an adult, I haven't had that opportunity (either way) except through the Internet.

Last year, through Eternal Sunset, I tracked a location in Antarctica and a location in Fairbanks, AK for an entire year. However, neither location has the true 24 hour swing - Fairbanks, for example, has a maximum daylight time of 21 hrs and 45 minutes (approximately.) They do have 24 hour "light"on the day of the summer solstice but the sun does set.

Now, I have, again through Eternal Sunset, found an actual 24 hour web cam location - in Norway. Svalbard and Longyearbyen, to be exact. Right now, as I write this, it is almost midnight. The sun is right on the horizon. The web cam is pointed at it. It is 28 degrees above zero, snow on the ground, and several people on snowmobiles are clearly visible. I wish I could be allowed to post a picture from this website. This is a childhood dream come true. What is it like to live there?

There are photos of this area, and stunning would not begin to describe it. What does the person who runs this website do for a living? Does he sleep at all during the arctic day? Has he ever been to more temporate climes? If so do our days and nights seem weird to him?

One day I will sign his guestbook, although I'd better not tell him about my obsession with the Midnight Sun. Some things are better left unsaid.

(2013 postscript - I follow a blog written in Fairbanks, AK.  The blogger, Sue Ann Bowling, is participating once again in the Word Count Blogathon.  She has just been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and is waiting for the pathology tests to come back.  Please drop by and send some good wishes her way.)

8 comments:

  1. I love the idea of the midnight sun but would hate to actually live in an area that experienced it due to the days that are so short of daylight. My obsession is the aurora borealis. That is one on my bucket list.

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  2. My mother's family are from Finland. In Karelia in the north (where they are from) they have 24 sun and 24 hour night depending on the time of year. It is hard to live with. I would like to experience it but I don't think I would like to live with it.

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  3. Hey Alana, I checked out Sue Ann's blog and sent her a note. I've always been fascinated by places where the sun never sets. I'm not a winter person and get a bit blue during the short gray days of our Nebraska winters. I'd love to live in Alaska for a time, just to see what it's like when the sun doesn't set. (The times when it's dark all day long, I could do without!) Very fascinating post, as always, my friend!

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  4. Isn't it funny what sticks with us from childhood? I loved your descriptions. Thank you so much for sharing the webcam link!

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  5. I used to wonder about those places too.

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  6. The webcam link could not be found, but I clicked on Norway. In England, we almost have no dark at the moment. It's light at 4am and dusk at 10pm. I'm asleep at the rest of the time. This never occured when I lived in Australia, so it's pretty wonderful to me--even after 25 years of living here.

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  7. Ok. I'll write it again. It's hardly dark here in England at the solstice. It's light at 4 am and dusk at 10 pm, which still excites me after 25 yrs of living here. I popped over and left a message for your friend.

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    1. Thank you. Francene, I did get all three comments. Sometimes Blogger does not behave well with comments. Thanks for your continued efforts! Sorry about the webcam link - I thought I had retested all the links before I copied the old post. Sorry about that.

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