By: Jasmine Wang
On November 19th, Utqiagvik, Alaska experienced its last sunset of the year. The sun will not rise again in Utqiagvik until January 23rd, 2023. That means America’s northernmost city will not see daylight for 64 continuous days.
This extended polar night occurs because Utqiagvik is located just 1,300 miles from the north pole. The earth revolves around the sun at a 25-degree angle, so the polar regions will be tilted away from the sun for a long time.
"This happens every year," says Judson Jones, a CNN meteorologist. "If you live above the Arctic Circle, there will be a day when the Sun sets for the rest of the winter. The good news? It will return and then during the summer it won't set for days."
During the polar night, citizens of Utqiagvik can observe the northern lights. These amazing swirls of green, blue, yellow, and pink result from the Sun’s charged particles colliding with the ionized particles near the earth’s poles.
Utqiagvik won’t be completely dark in the daytime though. The sun’s rays curve around the earth and can be seen above the horizon. This is called the civil twilight. It appears in beautiful shades of blue, orange, and pink. This is because the sun’s rays scatter through the earth’s atmosphere.
Utqiagvik is the first Alaskan town to experience a polar night every year, but it isn’t the only one. Kaktovik, Point Hope, and Anaktuvuk Pass also experience this phenomenon.