Finding the Midnight Sun

Alaska (and that part of the world above the Arctic Circle) is known as the "Land of the Midnight Sun" for 24 hours of daylight during the Summer. 'Midnight' sun really means that the sun is up at midnight, but reaches its lowest point after 1:30 am. Perhaps the "All-Night Sun" is better. Here is a reminder of Fairbanks area day light hours. In order to capture a few snaps of the Midnight sun we loaded up the truck on June 22,2000 and headed to Eagle Summit, 2 hours north of Fairbanks on the Steese Highway. (see the reference map).

Upon reaching Eagle Summit, we set up our cameras and waited for a low enough sun angle to take pictures. The mosquitos were incredibly thick (even by Alaskan standards) and we eventually had to take shelter back in the truck.

The best pictures were to be had between 1:30 and 1:50 am. This is the lowest the sun was that night (it never set). Of course, the farther north one ventured, the higher the sun stayed. Here is a reminder of day light hours in Barrow, AK. Even on this picture you can see mosquitos. They are the black spots around, most prominant one is in the upper left.

We took some time to pose with the sun. Notice on the two pictures below that the white spots are mosquitos caught by the flash. They were everywhere that night as the winds were calm.

The most dramatic photographs of the midnight sun utilize multiple exposures. The following picture, from the State of Alaska Division of Tourism**, is a perfect example. I am not sure where this was taken, but it is clearly near the Arctic Circle.

State of Alaska

The scenery of Eagle summit consists of baren, rolling hills (about 3600 feet, give or take). Obviously we are well above tree line, and many snow patches will remain over the summer.

After finishing the photo-taking, we goofed off on a large snow drift, taking its own sweet time melting away. Ginger is throwing a snowball at me, not experiencing a neurologic "event."

The area around Eagle Summit is extensively mined. Here is a mining camp on the south side of Eagle, taken at 2:15 am with normal camera gear and shutter speed.

By the time we decided to camp, we rejected setting up the tent and just crashed in the bed of the truck. Not as comfortable, but who cares when you're tired?

Since the daylight hours vary significantly, here is a way for you to check today's sunrise/sunset data.

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** Credit for this photo was given to the Division of Tourism by 2 separate web sites, but I can't locate the actual picture on the State of Alaska site.