While the entire American continent was experiencing the longest partial lunar eclipse of the century, a city in the United States had already said goodbye to the Sun until next year. It is about Utqiaġvik in Alaska, which lived its last sunset yesterday and will not see it fully again until January 22, 2022.
However, your case is not unique. Other cities will also ‘shut down’ in the coming weeks, such as Murmansk (northwestern Russia) and Tromso (Norway). According to Time and Date in the first, the Sun will set on November 27 and will return on January 5; while, in the second, the darkness will extend from December 2 to January 11.
Although the three cities are very far from each other, they share a common characteristic: a same latitude. These are located where the Arctic Circle begins and in this strip of the Earth an unusual phenomenon happens for other eyes, but very common for its citizens every year.
The reason for the “disappearance” of the star king is due to a phenomenon known as’polar night ‘. It is called that because in this season the center of the Sun is not high enough to be above the horizon of cities at this latitude. This occurs in different areas of the Northern Hemisphere, such as Norway, Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Finland, Russia, and Sweden.
This event is explained by the rotation of the Earth in relation to the position of the Sun. As the planet is tilted 23.5 degrees on its axis, at this time of year the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles – the only ones that experience it – they remain hidden or completely exposed to sunlight respectively.
Also, the further north one is, the polar night becomes longer and, depending on the location, its duration can vary between 27 and 66 days. The counterpart of this phenomenon, which can be experienced between May and August, is called ‘polar days‘or’midnight suns‘, that is, when it hardly ever gets dark.
It should be noted that during this season natural light is not completely foreign, but it is very limited. The reason is due to the refraction of sunlight in the earth’s atmosphere, which bends the electromagnetic rays and generates an effect similar to sunrises and twilights in the sky, but the sun never takes off from the horizon.
Although more northern lights can be seen during this season, the prolonged darkness also generates colder temperatures and alters the cycles of dreams and the emotional health of its citizens.