One of the pleasures of living far from the ambient light of a city's glow, with its sharp illumination of street lights and commercial signage, is seeing the sharp distinction of natural dark and light. Mountains and forests block the sky so their edges outline a gorgeous sprinkling of stars, and sometimes, satellites and auroras.
Here, in our remote corner of Alaska, we are encircled by mountains, hills, and forests which serve to lengthen the long winter nights.
|Moon setting, 8 am, February|
One of my most startling realizations upon moving here was the basic observation of when and where the sun rises and sets! (visit www.suncalc.net) As a Southern city person, I took that predictable east-west arc for granted. Obviously, though, the closer one lives to the equator, the more constant is the trajectory of the sun, year round. Up here, at Latitude 61, the winter and summer suns are like two, totally different seasonal visitors. The winter sun traverses only about 1/3 of the sky, from south to west for 4-8 hours of daylight before dropping precipitously behind a 4500 foot mountain. In summer, the sun ambles around ¾ of the sky, from east to north west, over the course of a 20 hour day. Because of the earth's tilt, beautiful sunrises and sunsets last much longer than in lower latitudes. This time
of year, as I sip a steamy mug of coffee, I
peer through the windows to see the colorful striations from about 8
to 9:30 am. In the afternoons, we plan early dinners to take
advantage of the lovely light between 4:30 and 6. Surely this is the
pink light that Sydney Lawrence captures in his astonishing
“portraits” of Denali.
|Sunset, 4:45 pm, February|
Because of the long winter nights, we generate less solar power than in summer months. Rather than rely on the generator for additional power, we make our peace with the darkness. Other than sticking a hand in the knife drawer, it is fairly easy to function in absolute