A Town in Northern Alaska Won’t See the Sun Again Until January 23
If you’re a night owl, you may want to consider spending your winters in Utqiaġvik, Alaska, the northernmost city in the US, where it had its last sunrise of the year on Sunday at 1:43 p.m. local time.
According to Weather.com, “From mid-November through late January, the sun doesn’t rise north of the Arctic Circle due to the tilt of the Earth away from the sun’s most direct radiation.”
Located 330 miles above the Arctic Circle, the city, which was previously called Barrow, plunged into 65 days of darkness. The next sunrise will appear on January 23 at 1:04 p.m. Utqiaġvik experiences a phenomenon called polar night, which is a period of darkness in the winter with no sunrises that occurs in cities inside the polar circles.
These events begin at the North Pole in the fall after the autumnal equinox. The darkness slowly spreads throughout the Arctic Circle until the winter solstice, which happens at the end of December, when it begins to reverse in the other direction.
The northern third of Alaska lies above the Arctic Circle, the ring of latitude that encircles the frigid Arctic polar region.
Although Utqiagvik is not the only Alaskan town to experience this phenomenon, it is the first one on the polar night location list because of how far north it is.
“This happens every year,” CNN meteorologist Judson Jones said. “If you live above the Arctic Circle, there will be a day when the sun sets for the rest of winter. The good news? It will return and then during the summer it won’t set for days.”
Utqiaġvik is a home to a large population of indigenous Iñupiaq people, housing several research stations. The city’s 4,400 residents are used to the polar night.
While it will be dark, it won’t be completely dark all of the time. For about six hours a day, the sun will be six degrees below the horizon and provide enough light to see objects outside. But that period of time, known as civil twilight, shrinks to about three hours a day by the end of December.
Between mid-November and late January, the sun doesn’t rise north of the Arctic Circle due to its position on the planet. Between mid-May and August, the area experiences nearly two months of sunlight.