Yeah, I know, this happened ages ago but better late than never eh?
After just over three months of darkness the sun came back to our part of Antarctica. We didn’t really get the chance to properly celebrate what is quite an important date in the antarctic winterers calender and is also a really nice day – there’s something primitive inside that reacts well to the Sun coming back. We were, unfortunately, a bit busy to give the day it’s full dues. We did stick to most of the traditions though.
When the Sun fell below the horizon earlier this year Nick, the oldest member of the team, lowered the flag (which is now mine!) flying above the base. With the arrival of the Sun again it was the job of Silver as the youngest of our crew to raise a new flag. Before raising it he gave a great speech, which got some good laughs, we then had a toast and officially welcomed the Sun back to us.
So then, for those that don’t know, why does the Sun come and go for us down here? Well, it’s the same reason we have seasons. The difference between winter and summer is not caused by us being closer or further away from the Sun, but, instead , is caused by the fact that the Earth is tilted. The Earth spins on an axis – like a spinning top, but like a spinning top tilting slightly to one side (by 23.5 degrees to be precise). This tilt means that when the Earth is on one side of the Sun the bottom of the planet will be pointing away and the top of the planet will be pointing towards the Sun – this would be summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere. When the Earth is at the opposite side of the Sun this will be reversed and it will be summer in the South, Winter in the North.
Here’s a rubbishy drawing I did on paint that shows it a bit better!
When the South is pointing away from the Sun, the most Southerly parts of the planet (like Antarctica) will not receive any light from the Sun at (and the opposite in the North)
This is one of the reasons why it’s so cold down here and so cold right up in the North of the planet in the Arctic. There a lot’s of other reasons too – and more reasons why it is particularly frozen in the South. I’m going to persuade Richard, our MetBabe to do a post about it!