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What it's like on the Darkest Day of the Year in Interior Alaska

December 26, 2012 |

Over the years, we've gotten quite a few questions on exactly what it's like on the darkest day of the year in Interior Alaska. 

This winter solstice, we were blessed with a clear and cold day up here in Alaska, and took the opportunity to take some pictures of the sun in front of the Momplex from Sunrise to Sunset. None of these pictures have been altered or taken with a filter (camera on auto) so you can get the real deal.

After you read this post, you'll be wishing you worked from sunrise to sunset Alaska time!  The sun is supposed to rise at about 10:30.

But we didn't see a thing until 11:40.  Outside, it's the dawn before the daylight. Light enough to make your way around outside, but not bright enough to cheer you up.

And then, just peeking over the mountains, 

you see a glimmer of brightness.

At noon, the sun is up.

It's bright and optimistic, despite barely clearing the mountains of the Alaska range, despite it being -20 degrees below zero (without wind chill).

With only three real hours of daylight, the sun just skims over the tops of the mountains, never rising directly overhead as it does in the summer.

Outside, it's now light, and even though the sun is so far away, and hardly directly over us, with all the snow, the sun reflects everywhere and it is bright outside.

At night with a full moon, it's bright enough to see without a flashlight, because the moonlight reflects so brightly on the snow. 

We get about an hour or two of "full" sun.

If I have pictures to take, this is my only window, between 12:30 and 1:30.  If we have any outdoor work to do, it's now or wait until tomorrow.

Here we are at 12:50, and the sun is already starting to go down.

And by 2:10?

The sun starts dropping behind the mountains.

And just 10 minutes later,

The sun is gone.

And it won't return for another 21 hours.

On the bright side?

Tomorrow, we'll gain a few seconds more of daylight.  

Warm wishes from Alaska!

Wow

Okay, that's kind of crazy but very beautiful.

posted by Danyiel Johnson (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-12-26 18:12

Education

I am for sure going to share this with my third grade students! They have a difficult time understanding how the sun doesn't come up during the day, or al least for such a short time.

posted by Lori Labrum (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-12-26 20:56
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How awesome! It's so simple,

How awesome! It's so simple, and yet, I never thought of it! I wish I had this when my eldest was little. I suppose it's as good a time as any to get my two year old organized though! YAY! Thanks, Ana! Cipto Junaedy belajar bahasa inggris

posted by welonk | on Wed, 2013-03-20 22:42

I would lose my mind -

I would lose my mind - literally. I never realized how affected I am by lack of sunlight until I moved north to Colorado. I am a new reader. I found you via a link from Prudent Homemaker. I love your projects!

posted by Sheila Laurence (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-12-26 18:36

Amazing

I crave the sun here in Michigan where most winter long we have the "lake affect" overcast weather. This winter thus far we've had more sun than usual. Alaska is beautiful from what you have shared but I think I would need more sun and warmth. It makes me appreciate all the more all that you and your family do as you brave the elements. Thank you so much for sharing!


posted by spiceylg | on Wed, 2012-12-26 19:39

What a Different World

Thanks so much for sharing the ordinary, everyday parts of your life. What is "ordinary" for you is so "exotic" to me. Here in eastern Tennessee, I'd love to see a little snow to cover our green grass. We haven't had a good snow in Knoxville since 1996. Flurries in the air, yes; snow worthy of shoveling, no. Again, thanks for the lovely post.

posted by Frances Fogerson (not verified) | on Wed, 2012-12-26 21:57

Attitude

I have lived in a couple of countries where the sun is absent for months at a time. I think if you just ignore the weather and just get on with your life you manage just fine. Loved the pictures.

posted by Peg Cooper (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-12-27 09:13
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Beautiful!

Thanks so much for taking the time to show us what it's like in Alaska. It's absolutely gorgeous in pictures, although I don't know if I'd want to be living in -20 degree weather! As someone else mentioned, it's amazing that you can build the momplex with such adverse weather. Thank you again and wishing you all the best for 2013!!

posted by songbirdfeeder | on Thu, 2012-12-27 10:04

Glad you posted these pics!

So neat to see what the shortest day looks like in Alaska - I've always wondered what it would be like to actually be there in the winter. I live in Edmonton, which is considered far north by a lot of people in Canada, and our shortest day did feel really dark this year. But now I know what to compare it to!

posted by harmamae (not verified) | on Thu, 2012-12-27 15:01
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momofour09's picture

Beautiful!

I live in FL. right now so trying to imagine the temperature let alone the lack of sunlight is near impossible. The sun's been setting about 5-6 here and I think it's too early, lol. If I weren't so averse to cold I would love it, it's very pretty and the pictures were great :)

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posted by momofour09 | on Thu, 2012-12-27 17:03

shortest day of the year

I live in Kalispell, MT. We celebrated the solstice with an outdoor solstice party on Flathead Lake. A hearty stew, warm bonfires, and pretty cool friends made for a fun evening. I love your blog.

posted by Cindy Freeman (not verified) | on Fri, 2012-12-28 16:19

Brrrrrrrrrrr

Bonjour,
Je suis Français et j'habite en Provence, ou le climat ressemble a celui de la californie. Nous on ce plains quand il fait 1 ou 2° C et quand il n'y a pas le soleil. Bon courage a vous et rester au chaud !

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