It’s hard to deny that winter pretty much sucks, right? And one major aspect of this is just the sheer lack of sunlight. Living with just a few hours of light per day can leave even the hardiest among us feeling like somewhat of a vampire. But once you hear about Utqiaġvik, Alaska, you’ll start to think of yourself as one of the lucky ones.
Located 330 miles above the Arctic Circle, Utqiaġvik is the northernmost city in the USA. And on Sunday, it saw its last light of the year. The sun has disappeared for an unbelievable sixty-five days. As Weather.com puts it, “From mid-November through late January, the sun doesn’t rise north of the Arctic Circle due to the tilt of the Earth away from the sun’s most direct radiation.”
Utqiaġvik won’t be in total darkness, though. It experiences what’s known as “civil twilight,” meaning the sun remains just below the horizon and creates low-level illumination. Right now, the city experiences six hours of this per day, but it’ll drop to three hours by the end of December.
The four thousand residents of Utqiaġvik consist of the indigenous Iñupiaq people, plus workers at the city’s research centers. But with all this darkness comes a lot of light, too. Starting in May, the city will experience a sixty-day period without sunset. We’re exhausted just thinking about it.