Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Eternal Sunsets of the Spotting Mind

Back to my favorite website. And my childhood obsession with the 24 hour day.

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, 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 & 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 Eternal Sunset. Some things are better left unsaid.

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