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Stauchy Blog » Blog Archive » Here Comes the Sun - Fri Aug 3 (JRS)

Here Comes the Sun - Fri Aug 3 (JRS)

We have now seen the first sign that the long winter night is coming to an end.  This evening, we ran into Johan in the hall and he asked if we’d seen the glow of the sun yet.  We got geared up and went to the observation deck to check it out.  After our eyes adjusted, here is what we saw:


There was a very faint, but certainly noticible glow on the horizon.  I set up the tripod and took a few pictures with different exposure settings.  The picture above shows more-or-less what we could see once our eyes adjusted (it is a 5 second exposure).  As you can see, it was a very faint glow.  At the time of the picture, the sun was approximately 17 degrees below the horizon, which would equate to about two hours before the sun rises on a normal day back in the U.S.  Here is a 15 second exposure, which is about 3 times as bright as out eyes saw:


And here is a picture that’s a 30 second exposure, so 6 times as bright as we saw.


A couple of things to notice.  The red light is ARO, to which I walk once a day to check on an instrument there.  The group of black objects between us and ARO is the South Pole, with miscellaneous flags hung around it (in the winter, the 12 flags representing each of the countries that signed the Antarctic Treaty, are removed, and some people hang flags of their own to get the South Pole weathered look).  You can see clouds, which accentuates the the glow from the sun.  You can also see the faint aurora quite well (I’ll write a blog all about aurora one of these days!).  The greens and purples are from the aurora, while the redish color is from the sun.  And finally, behind the aurora, you can see the brighter patch of sky that is the milky way.  It actually turned out to be a pretty cool shot, one of my favorites from the winter.

The feeling of sitting there seeing the glow from the sun was pretty spectacular.  It was very peaceful and calming, like the times when you go outside very early in the morning.  There was very little or no wind.  To a small extent is was disheartening because it meant the coming of the end of the darkness, which has been my favorite time down here.  But, more so, it was also exciting because it is finally a concrete sign that the end is coming, and the next phase will soon begin.


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