Three months of darkness have finally come to an end in Antarctica. The sun rose this month for the first time since May, and the researchers from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Antarctic base Concordia witnessed it.
Another view of the Antarctic sunrise in August, 2013. (Courtesy: ESA)
“It’s 11:10 on the morning of 10 August 2013, and the eastern skies are clear and radiant,” writes ESA Antarctic researcher Antonio Litterio. “Slowly, on the snow, I see the first signs of you (the sun) as a band of fiery red light brushes every single ripple of snow between me and the horizon.”
In Antarctica, night arrives in May and lasts until August. The months-long night is referred to as polar night and occurs only inside the polar circles.
In addition to life with no sun, researchers at Concordia, and other Antarctic research stations, have to deal with bitterly cold temperatures and no chance of rescue in an emergency.
“I watch the light spread. As it approaches me, it broadens like a wide embrace; I look up and there you are, in a blaze of light,” writes Litterio. “My heart leaps and I murmur 'Welcome back.' Before today, I could never have imagined how powerful you are in the mind and heart of someone who has been deprived of you for so long.”
Litterio wrote in his ESA blog that it had been 90 days since he saw the sun.
Researchers come to the Antarctic to study a number of different subjects, including glaciers, earthquakes, and even the stress of harsh environments on people.
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This photo taken by johndhard at Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon on Dec. 27, 2012. He writes that the photo title is Magical Moment because it was just that. The sun backlit the frozen trees, giving them a magical look until the ice melted, he said.