Polar night: Sun sets for last time this year in America’s northernmost city

Next official sunrise in Utqiagvik, Alaska, doesn’t happen until late January

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

ORLANDO, Fla. – You read that right! Utqiagvik, formerly known as Barrow, Alaska, will watch the sun set for the last time this year Thursday.

The sun will officially rise at 12:46 p.m. local time and set at 1:37 p.m., giving Utqiagvik a whopping 50 minutes of daylight Thursday. The sun won’t rise again above the horizon until Jan. 22, 2022.

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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

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 Florida.

In the warm season, the opposite is true. The northern hemisphere is tilted toward the sun, 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 continue to see the sun as the Sunshine State lies much closer to the equator.

On our shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, or the first day of winter, Central Florida will “only” have 10 hours and 19 minutes of daylight.


About the Author:

Jonathan Kegges joined the News 6 team in June 2019 as the Weekend Morning Meteorologist. Jonathan comes from Roanoke, Virginia where he covered three EF-3 tornadoes and deadly flooding brought on by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.