Date: August 8th 2012
Temperature: -37.5 deg C
Wind Speed: 5 knots
Temp with wind chill: -45 deg C
It was extremely difficult for me to get my head around just exactly how the transition of the seasons work down in Antarctica, but I guess the best way you could describe it is:
• 24hr constant sunlight
• 3-4 weeks of ambient light (without seeing the sun) getting shorter everyday
• 24hr constant darkness, with some illumination from the moon, when clear
• 3-4 weeks of ambient light (without seeing the sun) getting longer every day, and with a great deal of illumination from the moon.
First sun of the season on the Hut, 26th August, 1911
Now, learn’d folk reading this, will be saying “yeah! obvious…derrrr”, but until you experience that mixture of tiredness, confusion, and firsts, trust me, the events of everyday, come as a bit of a shock. Just the other day, four of us watched a huge fiery golden globe rising over the horizon, although we knew it was the moon, it didn’t stop us asking each other over and over “it’s definitely not the sun, right?”
Nacreous Clouds forming over Mt Erebus
Equal to the aurora’s, nacreous clouds unfurl in the sky like smudges of diesel, making you feel like you’re inside a huge opalescent mussel shell, (indeed the word is derived from ‘nacre’ or mother of pearl).
I’ve never really had any time for solstice events but the joy of seeing the light on the snow here does place you in tune with all of your thoughts, and a real sense of time passing, life changing. Looking over Mt Erebus and seeing the light emission of the swirling pinks and violets, there is a desperation to be naive to all you’ve learned of science and to see it as a cauldron of magic, that will soon spill over and bring only good.
It’s nice to think that the explorers would have begun their long hauling seasons with this fever of positivity in their veins.