Daylight hours diminishing

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This week at Mawson: 17 May 2013

Most areas of Antarctica experience continual daylight over summer and uninterrupted darkness over winter. South of the Antarctic Circle 66⁰33ˈ S, the sun never rises above the horizon on some winter days and in summer the sun never sets below the horizon. This occurs because the South Pole during winter is tilted away from the sun and lies in darkness where as during summer it is tilted more towards the sun thus is bathed in more daylight. The Arctic and Antarctic circles move in cycles (Milankovitch cycles) and are currently moving closer to the poles at a rate of 14.5m per year. In 10,000 years they will reach 68⁰ latitude.

Mawson station lies at 68⁰ south and at the moment were losing about 8-9 minutes of sunlight per day. This means for this time of year were starting and finishing work in the dark. Today for example sunrise is at 10:01 AM and sunset is at 3:27 PM giving us just 5h 26m of day length. Between 14 and 28 of June the sun will not rise at all with the Mawson winter solstice being on Friday 21 June at 10:04 AM.

The winter solstice marks the half-way turning point for the hardy winter expeditioner and as customary will be a time for celebration and cheer.

On the other hand between 30 November and 12 January the station will be bathed in all-day sunlight without the sun rising or setting with the Mawson summer solstice falling on Saturday 21 December at 10:11 PM.

There is also a good possibility of celebrations once again.

Pictures of sunrise/sunsets from Mawson station are below.

Mawson sunrise
10am Sunrise
(Photo: Peter Cubit)
Mawson sunset
Sunset at 1530
(Photo: Peter Cubit)
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