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

Primary tabs

PDF versionPDF version

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!

Comments

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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!!

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!

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 :)

It's all fun and games until someone loses their stitch count.

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.