This week at Davis we take a look at a year of sunsets, talk to another expedtioner, showcase spectacular aurora australis photos and report on a few trips off station.

Davis sunsets

Much has been written about sunsets and they are the subject of many photographs. Sunsets in Antarctica, when photographed, capture a stunningly beautiful moment.

It is fascinating how many different views you can get, when the sun races along the horizon and you wonder which island, hill, or iceberg it is going to light up as it sinks below the visible line.

During the summer, when the sun is still setting, it sets to the south of the station. In winter, when the sun returns, it sets in the north. Through spring into the summer months again, the sun sets increasingly to the west and then to the south again.

Every sunset is different, no two are the same. Each, surprisingly in this place, providing its own warm feelings.

Doc’s Dozen

Mark Coade

Electrician/Emergency Response Team/Fort Knox Manager/Number 1 Maroons supporter

Cody, I know you summered here at Davis in 2010/11. What brought you back to Antarctica?
The ship.

What is it like being a sparkie here?

If not a sparkie, what job would you do?
Doctor or geologist. (Taking a lead from the girls on station I see Cody)

What is the best part of your job?
Finishing a job well done, and the bonus is if it works. No really, smoko (aka hot breakfast), lunch and knock off.

What has been your best experience in Antarctica so far?
Winning the State of Origin again and knowing how bad the blues felt. That’s eight in a row.

If you were granted one wish, what would it be?
To have no electricity.

What have you learned about living in our little Davis family over the winter Cody?
Don’t trust anyone. (Goodness me! I think we will have to work on some of these trust issues Cody!)

Now Cody, if you where a car, what would you be? (I’m thinking golf buggy perhaps?)
The EWP (elevated work platform)…nothing out of reach.

Cody, how tough is it being the custodian of Fort Knox (station alcohol store) and has anyone tried to pull anything dodgy on you?
My advice, keep good with the Doc. She has the most. (Hmmm…)

I know that the two generators in the emergency powerhouse are referred to as Bonnie and Clyde. Do you have names for the four generators in the main power house?
Engines 1, 2, 3, 4.

What is your favourite bit of equipment here and why?
That’s personal.

Cody, you have organised the NRL tipping competition for us this year. How is that going on a professional and personal level?
People that know the least do the best.

Apart from being reunited with your gorgeous wife and children, what is in store when you return home Cody?
…sometimes I just need a hug.

Cody, as always, a man of few words. If you really need a hug we can book one in.

Aurora spectacular

The sky phenomenon known as aurora is caused by energetic particles ejected from the sun, often in coronal mass ejection (CME) events. These particles can be funnelled by the Earth’s magnetic field into the Earth’s atmosphere at the poles when the Earth’s and sun’s magnetic fields are of opposite polarity. Collisions between the highly energetic particles and the Earth’s atmosphere cause the air to glow at altitudes above 100km.

The areas around the Earth’s poles (both north and south) where auroras commonly occur are known as the auroral ovals. Despite Davis not being situated favourably in the southern auroral oval we have been witness to many spectacular displays, right from the onset of darkness in late summer and on throughout the year. A couple of notably spectacular auroral displays with repeated substorms occurred during the year. One on the 25th of April and the other on the 15th of July. A selection of photos taken during these events are shown here.

Tom Luttrell, Davis SCTO

Exploring the Vestfold Hills

With the return of the sun, it is a good opportunity to get away from the hustle and bustle of station for a while and explore the natural beauty of Davis’s Vestfold Hills. With this in mind, last weekend a group of nature loving winterers headed off on a little whistlestop tour of the western section of the Vestfolds. After a shaky start with the quads getting stuck in some thick snow, the first stop was the magnificent Sørsdal Glacier with its dazzling array of blue ice. After embracing its beauty it was back on the quads and off to Watts Hut that was to be our accommodation for the night. The air was fragrant as we dined on Brigid’s Madras Beef Curry followed by plum pudding. Once darkness had fallen it was off to Watts Lake and the chance for Mark, our sparkie, to display his skills and light up the night with a brilliant display of Antarctic outdoor lighting.

The next morning, not quite at the crack of dawn, saw us up again on the quads exploring the meandering twists and turns of Lake Druzhby, then over to the more expansive Crooked Lake. The frozen fresh water lakes are very smooth and slippery compared to the sea ice and care is needed to travel them safely. The day was dull and overcast but quite still, giving the hills a quiet, sombre feel.

After our adventures on the lakes it was back to the hut for a quick warm up, then off home to Davis for a home cooked Sunday dinner provided by the Sunday slushy. A very pleasant time was had by all.