Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Thoughts Of The Midnight Sun

I participate in a Friday meme called Skywatch Friday.  Two weeks ago, a blogger posted a photo taken in Wales of a sunset at about 10pm.

Only once in my life did I see a sunset that late. It was many years ago, when spouse and I stayed one night in a cabin in Minnesota in early June.  And even at that, it wasn't a kind of sunset I've wanted to see all my life - the sunset of the midnight sun.

I have never seen the midnight sun.  For all I know (as I am a very nervous flyer - no, let's be honest, I'm scared to death of flying and haven't been on a plane since 1996) I never will, at least in person. Upstate New York is a long way from Iceland, or Norway, Antarctica or even Alaska.

If I had a bucket list, seeing the midnight sun would be on it.  Why?  Because light at midnight breaks a basic rule of my life.  I grew up in New York City.  I have lived in Florida, in Iowa, in Kansas, in Arkansas, and, for the past 30 plus years, upstate New York.

In all of those places, the sun rises every day.  It travels up in the sky.  Then it goes down and sets.  Then there is dark.  Rinse and repeat, 365 days a year.  It's one of those basic rules.  If the rule ever was to break, I would become scared in a primeval way.  The world has rules it's obeyed all of my life.

If I looked up at the dark sky, and the stars were all in places they didn't belong, how would I feel?  Scared, I imagine.  As a little girl, I had dreams like that.  It makes me wonder, sometimes, if I was remembering a memory fragment from a previous life.  I was very young, but I still remember the fear.  And sometimes, in those dreams, the sun wouldn't set until near midnight.  It seemed right, but also scary.  Again, why?

The sunrise/sunset daily cycle doesn't happen the same way everywhere, and I've known thatsince I was a little girl.  I think I knew it before I ever learned about "why" in elementary school science.  I knew there were places where the sun did not set during some of the year, and did not rise during some of the year.  Or, the sun did rise or set, but not long enough to matter.

I visited Alaska once. It was in September, back in the 1980's, before I developed my fear of flying. Close to the fall equinox, the day length was about the same there as in upstate New York. But the quality of the light was different, noticeably different.  It was - well, not just dimmer.  It was different.  I wasn't big into photography back then, but I may have been seeing an hours long golden hour.  Also, dusk seemed to go on for hours after the sun set.

And the flowers - the flowers!  My spouse and I saw nasturtiums with blooms practically the size of dessert plates (OK, I exaggerate) tumbling out of planters in Juneau.  I saw glaciers with ice so blue that I bought a blue topaz just to remember the color.  (We also saw banana slugs and moss covered roofs, but we won't go there).

I would love to see the Midnight Sun baseball game in Fairbanks, Alaska, one day.  I was surprised to find out how many major league baseball players played ball in Fairbanks before they went on to bigger and better things.  They all got to see the midnight sun.  The sun sets in Fairbanks on the summer solstice (it isn't far enough north for 24 hour darkness), but it never gets totally dark on the solstice.

I  hope to see that one day.  

As the days of my life grow shorter, time gets more precious.  And "one day" takes on new meaning.

I have to decide if I'm serious.


  1. ...I've never been at a high enough latitude to see a midnight sun.

  2. My litmus test is how long I think about something, if the want is replaced, I wasn't serious. But if I keep thinking about it I am. I think you're serious. Go!

  3. I love your ruminations on the sun, Alana./CarolC

  4. I always hate the long slide into winter darkness that starts June 21. Our sunset then was at 10:07 with twilight ending around 11. My cousin worked in Inuvik. The sun just made a circle in the sky on the solstice, never rising or setting. I think I would struggle with that. But not as much as I would struggle with the total darkness of December 21!

  5. I’ve never been so far north that the midnight sun was a possibility. Maybe someday.

  6. Here in Idaho part of winter it dark by 4 in the afternoon. It does bother me.
    Coffee is on and stay safe

  7. Perhaps it's time to work up to this. If you can manage a short plane ride somewhere, it might help. Maybe? That would be great to see.

  8. Alana,

    There are many places I would love to travel to see but like you I have a fear of flying. I've never been on an airplane. However, it would be awesome if we could manage the expensive for such a trip that I'd say to myself, 'You only live once, go for it!" Life is too short to not enjoy. I hope you and I get such a chance to see the midnight sun. OH yeah, let's not forget the northern lights! ;)


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