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No sun for two months: Sun sets for last time in 2020 in America’s northernmost city

Sun won’t officially rise in Utqiagvik until late January

Polar night occurs because the Earth is tilted away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere cold season.
Polar night occurs because the Earth is tilted away from the sun in the Northern Hemisphere cold season.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, Alaska, will watch the sun set for last time this year on Wednesday.

The sun will officially rise at 12:51 p.m. local time and set at 1:29 p.m., giving Utqiagvik a whopping 34 minutes of daylight. The sun won’t rise again until Jan. 22, 2021.

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A phenomenon known as polar night, when the sun remains below the horizon due to earth’s tilt, occurs for locations within polar circles.

Utqiagvik lies within the Arctic circle. In the winter months, the northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, keeping the sun below the horizon.

Map of North America
Map of North America

Even though there won’t be an official sunrise for more than two months, it isn’t necessarily completely dark all the time. At its brightest, however, it will look how twilight does in the evening as the sun gets close to, but never rises above, the horizon. It’s the same concept as to why there is still some light even after the sun sets.

In the warm season, the opposite is true. The northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun and, therefore, the sun won’t set for a couple of months. This is also known as polar day or the midnight sun.

As you may have noticed, the daylight is decreasing across Central Florida as well. Florida, of course, will also continue to see the sun as the Sunshine State lies much closer to the equator.

Since the Autumnal Equinox, the first day of fall, Central Florida has lost nearly 90 minutes of daylight. Daylight will continue to decrease until the shortest day of the year, the first day of winter on Dec. 21. The earliest sunset for Orlando is 5:28 p.m. in early December.


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