The Midnight Sun
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Midnight Sun

Other terms you will hear are Solstice or Equinox. 

This page attempts to explain the phenomenon, and you can follow this link to find out how we celebrate it, so you can join us.

Alaska's high latitude makes it subject to extreme hours of summer daylight and winter darkness. 

Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle marks the southern limit of the area where the sun does not rise on the winter solstice or set on the summer solstice. Continuous day or night ranges from one day at the Arctic Circle to six months at the North Pole. The imaginary line of the Arctic Circle extends in an arc across the upper third of Alaska, at approximately 66 degrees 33' north of the equator. This is the latitude at which both summer and winter solstices occur.

 "Solstice" means the point at which the sun is at its greatest distance from the equator. In the summer, this occurs on June 20 or 21, making that the longest day of the year. 

Polar Day
The Polar day begins around March 21 when it is vernal equinox and the sun is right above the equator and the day and night are equal. At the Arctic Circle, the Polar day reaches its climax around June 21 when the solar orb is so high that at no point does it drop below the horizon.

[Photo by Alaska Division of Tourism]

Viewing & Celebrating
This phenomenon can also be seen from high points much nearer to Fairbanks. If you are lucky enough to be visiting on June 21, be sure to bring your camera. If you miss it, you can buy postcards showing the sun set that never sets, with time lapse photography.

Fairbanks residents go a little crazy on June 21, staying up all night for ball games under the midnight sun, and shopping in stores that stay open late. Check our calendar for events, as well as our special midnight sun events page.

Polar Night
The Polar night begins around Sept 23 when it is autumnal equinox and reach its climax around Dec 21 when the sun can no longer be seen above the horizon, even at noon.

It's the earth axis inclination to its course around the sun which causes the seasons, midnight sun and the midwinter darkness. It's also the same inclination that defines where the Arctic circle goes.

In winter, the day of solstice occurs on December 21 or 22. This day has the shortest length of daylight. At the Arctic Circle the sun does not rise at all on this day, but in the small town of Barrow (northern most point of Alaska) , the sun does not rise at all for 67 days.
 

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