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11

US Town Plunged into Darkness

The sun went down last week on an American town, and won't rise again for two months. Utqiaġvik, Alaska, formerly known as Barrow, is 330 miles above the Arctic Circle. The sun dipped below the horizon on Sunday, November 18, and is expected to return on January 23, 65 days later.

It's a common misconception that Utqiaġvik and areas north of the Arctic Circle are completely dark during this 65-day polar night.

Civil twilight, defined as the point when the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon, allows sufficient light to see objects outside. This civil twilight period is about 6 hours long near the beginning and end of polar night but shrinks to about 3 hours in the heart of the polar night just before Christmas.

Where will the sun rise? That depends on where you are standing. Within the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, the sun doesn't appear to go up and then down. It circles around in the sky, and when it sets and rises, it skims around the horizon, as seen in this video (3:25 to 3:45, although the whole thing is great to watch). The Geophysical Institute has a webcam stationed in Utqiaġvik, so in case you want to see it at night, you can do that any time of the day. The scenery doesn't change much. Read more about the long night in Utqiaġvik at The Weather Channel. -via 22 Words


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