Monday, June 20, 2016

Revisiting The Midnight Sun

In 2009, my first year of blogging, I blogged about my fascination with sunsets and the midnight sun.  I am repeating it today, with edits, to celebrate the first day of summer
Sunset, about 8:30 pm June 16, 2016 - no it's not the midnight sun!
When I was growing up in the Bronx, a borough of New York City, 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, 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.

In 2008, through a website called Eternal Sunset (which appears no longer to exist), I tracked a location in Antarctica and a location in Fairbanks, Alaska 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.

For a while, I would visit an actual 24 hour web cam location - in Norway. Svalbard & Longyearbyen, to be exact. As I wrote this post, it was almost midnight. The sun was right on the horizon. The web cam was pointed at it. It was 28 degrees above zero F, with snow on the ground, and several people on snowmobiles were clearly visible.

What is it like to live there?  It made me wonder.

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 temperate climes? If so do our days and nights seem weird to him?

Meanwhile, in Fairbanks, they will hold their 111th Midnight baseball game on Tuesday, June 21.  According to the Alaska Goldpanners (Fairbanks) website, the first game was held in 1906, but several times there was more than one game in a year.

And, if you are a true baseball fan, you can even watch about 10 minutes of a young Tom Seaver (Hall of Fame pitcher) pitching the 1965 Midnight Sun game.  Keep in mind that what you are seeing is happening somewhere between 10:30-11 pm.

This annual late night game is played in its entirety without artificial lighting, and there is a special Midnight pitch.

One day, I may even make a dream come true, and go to that game.  But until then, I love to watch sunsets, and take pictures of them.

Have you ever seen the Midnight Sun?

10 comments:

  1. I grew up in a very small town, but now that I'm older, I'm living in a suburban metro area. I sure do miss being able to see the stars at night, and the sunrises and sunsets.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

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  2. Not midnight but night sun yes! And it felt weird. :)

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  3. I remember thinking, in Anchorage, AK, that the sun didn't really "set" so much as it "circled the drain." I need both light and dark. I wish that we had real darkness at night, and could see the stars in all their glory if we lay on our backs, outside. I wish we had more bright, sunny, temperate days - there's a definite, positive effect on my mood when we do.

    Did you see the photo I posted, yesterday, on FB, of last night's sunset? I'll have to go tag you, so you can easily find it.

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  4. So, on our first trip to Stockholm (about the 20th of June, to boot), we walked around and talked and walked some more. Finally, my wife admitted that she was absolutely beat, and needed to turn in- even though the sun was shining bright. (She attributed it to jet lag.) Imagine her- and my surprise- when we arrived in our hotel room to see the time as 3:04 AM.

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  5. Ever since I read about midnight sun in Alaska I have been fascinated by the whole phenomenon of light at midnight. I will look out for the website. I didn't know that they exist. :)

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  6. Wow! Thank you for sharing that piece of information. I have also read about 6 months day and 6 months night but looks like that's not really true. And the midnight Sun? Never :( Not even on internet ;)

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  7. I kind of love it that it gets dark...I can't imagine trying to figure out what time to go to bed! And you'd for sure have to have room-darkening shades. Even in the summer, I find I don't change into my PJs until bedtime because it feels like it's still daylight for so long! Starting in the fall, I'm usually in my PJs by 6pm!

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  8. No, I have not had the chance. Although, at your more northern latitude, your sunset is later than mine is at this time of year.

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  9. Our #4 Daughter spent a month in St. Petersburgh, Russia, one mid-summer, and experienced that not-quite-24-hours-of-sun-but-24-hours-of-brightness.

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  10. I had the good fortune to visit St. Petersburg, Russia, during the summer solstice a few years ago. They call the time with 24/7 sunlight "The White Nights," and Dostoevsky even wrote a short story of the same name that takes place on the solstice. It's a truly beautiful experience to be there for it, as St. Petersburgers really celebrate the time. On Nevsky Prospekt, the patios of restaurants and cafes are full of people soaking up the sun at 2 and 3 am while they talk the night away.

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