6 July 2021

#AntarcticLog: The Value of Light

Posted by Shane Hanlon

#AntarcticLog is a series of comics by Karen Romano Young. You can find the originals here

Summer light: isn’t it glorious? Here in the Connecticut woods, in the northern hemisphere, we’re experiencing the longest days of the year, with dusks speckled by bats and sparkled by fireflies. In Antarctica, the dark days reign.  It’s clear enough why: the sun’s angle relative to your spot on Earth makes the light wax and wane around the winter and summer solstice.

When I tried to understand what the sunlight did the rest of the year, I found it less clear.  When I arrived at Palmer Station in March 2018, we had about 11 hours of daylight. By the time I left, in May, we had roughly four. How did it change so quick? Why do people in Antarctica talk less about spring and autumn, and more about the shoulder season?

The answer comes in these two #AntarcticLog comics — one graphic that shows what the sun does, month by month; and another that shows the pattern the light follows. Not only that, the second graphic gets into the tall weeds of the various twilights, dictated by the degree to which the sun sits below the horizon: important distinctions if you’re planning polar operations outside and wants to make the most of the dusky light available.

Meanwhile, up north we take a break for summer reading.  Naturally the best way to cool off with a book is by reading about Antarctica, so I’m including this small group of recommended books… with the news that my own book about Antarctica will be coming out in 2022.  Until then, there’s #AntarcticLog!  Thanks for reading.

Karen Romano Young is a writer, artist, deep-sea diver, and polar explorer. Follow her on Twitter & Instagram