Righty ho then, back to writing about what I’ve been up to after not posting owt for a while. First up – Sundown. The beginning of May was the time we said goodbye to the sun for 3 months. On that last day the sun popped its head above the horizon for about an hour and a half and then promptly disappeared, not to be seen again for 105 days. That’s not to say we went into pitch-black darkness immediately of course, the horizon was a sooty red for a few weeks for a couple of hours in the afternoon, with the light outside being similar to dusk. In fact even now we can see the smoky red line across the horizon just above where the sun should be for a few hours each day – though now we really are in a twenty-four hour night and the stars, if it’s clear and they are visible, are visible all day long.
On the day of the sundown there are a few traditions kept by the winterers at BAS. A speech is given by the oldest member of the wintering team – this year that honour went to Nick, the base heating engineer, and he did great a one, having us all laughing despite not being able to turn the pages due to numb fingers! Nick then had the job of lowering the Union flag that flies above Halley. The flag is fairly well tattered after a season in the Antarctic wind and when the sun comes back again the youngest of us will hoist a new one up the flagpole. We had a quick toast (and I mean quick, what with both ourselves and our drinks freezing fairly rapidly) and then stuffed our faces – and what better way to say goodbye to the sun, in temps around -40, than by having a barbie!
The sun barely making it up above the ice
Sun on it’s way and the flag looking fairly ragged
Yeah, it’s seen better days
Nick impressing us all with his oratory
Packing up the flag
The sun setting over big red
That’s it. No more sunshine for me for a while.
As I said, gotta drink it quick!
Well, it’s been nearly a month now and I really do miss the sun, it’s stranger than I thought living in this permanent night – though I do actually like it more than the twenty-four hour light of summer – that’s just too weird. It does feel very spooky looking out over the ice sometimes but, as dark and forbidding as it is looking out across a landscape that is only illuminated by the stars and the moon, it has to be said it does have it’s good bits too. There are not too many places where you can poke your head out of the front door in the morning with a coffee in your hand and be greeted by aurora. Or watch shooting stars and the milky way as you go about your business during the day. Moon rises and settings are pretty cool to watch right now, with the moon rising an orangey red colour, almost like a muted sun rise and then slowly turning yellow and then it’s customary bright white as it rises higher in the sky.
One of the most amazing things about being at Halley is the night sky, and we get to see it all the time now. Yeah, I might get seasonally affected disorder or rickets but that’s a small price to pay surely!
Here’s a pic from today of the Moon and Venus taken at one in the afternoon.
Coming up next: more green skies!