One Man's Alaska

The Wasilla, Alaska sun report

September 18, 2010

A little more than a week ago a friend wrote and asked what time the sun was setting. Since we've had nothing but sunshine for the last two weeks it was easy to pay attention, and I noted that the last I saw of the sunlight then was about 9:15 p.m.

Last night I happened to be taking my trash out and I realized it was pretty dark. When I got back inside I looked at the clock and it was about 8:45p.m. In roughly a week the sun was setting thirty minutes earlier!

I just looked on the Weather Underground website for Wasilla, and they report that we are losing nearly six minutes of sunlight every day(!). I'm here to tell you, when the sun is shining like this every day, it's a very noticeable change.

Sun is much lower in the sky

The other noticeable change is that the sun is also much lower in the sky. The desk I'm typing at right now is about twelve feet from the front window, where the sun rises in the morning. All summer long I could type here with the front window and window shades open, and the sunlight wasn't a problem at all. But now I have to keep the blinds closed, otherwise the sun would be in my eyes -- all morning.

The sun comes up on the left side of the window and slowly moves across the sky from left to right, and I can watch the sunlight pattern on the walls and floor move from right to left all morning. It's nice because it helps warm up the room -- it was 37 degrees this morning -- but it makes seeing the computer screen harder. My downstairs neighbor tells me it's going to do nothing but get worse as the sun gets lower and lower in the sky over the next few months, well, until it's gone almost completely in November through February.

This will be my first winter here, and I'm strangely excited about the complete darkness ... but the locals tell me I'll get over that soon enough, lol.

One more sunlight oddity

Oops, one more Alaska sunlight oddity: Despite the rapid changes, we still have more sunlight every day than places like Louisville, Kentucky and northern Illinois, two areas where I've spent most of my life. Both of those areas have a little more than thirteen hours of visible sunlight right now, while we're at just more than fourteen hours of sunlight in Wasilla per day today.

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