What Are The 'White Nights'?


By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - White nights are what those who live near the north pole call the time of year when the sun either doesn't set, or only sets for a few hours (as in, the sky stays lit, or white, during the night).

Starting right about this time of year and lasting through mid July or so, places north of the Arctic Circle (66.6 degrees north latitude) have very little time of darkness, if any. Today, Fairbanks, Alaska (just below the Arctic Circle) has a sunset around midnight and a sunrise around 3:45 a.m. right now.

Go up to Barrow, Alaska (71 degrees north) and the sun hasn't set since May 10, and will stay above the horizon until August 3.

That's because the Earth's forward tilt toward the sun in the summertime is such that the north polar region spins in constant sunlight.

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This pic was taken at Starry Hill Observatory by two high school students: Gwen Pederson and Brett Emery.