Antarctica is located at the bottom of the globe. It is one of the two places on earth that sees almost exactly six months of winter and six months of summer. The seasons are dictated not by snow, which we see year round, but rather by the presence or absence of the sun. In the summer the sun is in the sky for more hours than in the winter, the same is true all over the world. Right now in Oregon the sun is staying in the sky for an extra ~2.5 minutes longer each day, so the days are getting longer. Here in Antarctica the opposite is happening.

Here the days are getting shorter as we enter winter. For the next 48 days the length of our days will decrease by 30 minutes a day. This means that we lose in one day more then you gain in one week!

But don't worry. It will not be until mid March that I start to really feel the effects of the darkening skies. At that point the days will start becoming noticeably shorter, for now we will just be having darker nights, which will be pretty fun.

And there are good things to look forward to. First of all when the sun sets we will finally be able to see stars! Also with the darkening skies we get to see sunsets and sunrises, and most importantly we may be able to see the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights.

Aurora Australis are formed by a group of charged particles that reach the Polar Regions from the sun. Through a series of collisions these particles increase their energy and then lose excess energy in the form of light. The reason these lights are often seen in polar regions is that a wind and very cold temperatures are needed to see the brilliant colors; however, they can be seen as far south as Montana.

I will not be seeing the Aurora for some time yet, but for now we can see the moon in the dusky sky, hanging over our camp like a silent reminder of what is yet to come...

1 comment:

Neal said...

Hi. Great idea and execution of this blog. It's always nice to see what is happening on the other parts of the continent.