What is the Midnight Sun?

Everything that we see above and beneath the Earth has its own purpose in the existence and balance of all life. The clouds are proof of a water cycle beneficial to watering the land where flora and fauna thrive, grown, and reproduce. The types of clouds are also determinants of the different weather conditions that people likely experience as they appear accordingly.

Besides the clouds, the Moon and the Sun are central to all living organisms on Earth and even to other celestial objects in the galaxy. Sun is also an indicator of night and day. When it’s nighttime, as we cannot see the Sun, and it’s very dark, our brain signals our body that it is time to sleep and rest. However, there is an exception to this night and day signaling of the Sun as the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle experience what we call the midnight sun.

What is the midnight sun?

In the simplest terms, the Sun appears at midnight when the sky is normally filled with darkness, yet the Sun can still be seen.

This is nothing strange to fear as it is a natural phenomenon occurring at the height of summer in the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle regions. In the said regions, the Sun never sleeps and even visible at midnight, which means all throughout the day can be a time to do bird hunting with your binoculars because it never gets dark.

What causes the midnight sun?

As the Earth’s axis tilts more towards the Sun, the midnight sun occurs, and it peaks during the summer solstices. Each year, it usually happens around June 21 in the Northern Hemisphere, but in the Southern Hemisphere, it’s around December 23.

The Sun is moving in the sky during its peak but does not dip entirely under the horizon. And it depends on how far you go north. The endless daylight can last from a day to six months.

There is no night for six months at the Arctic Pole, as the midnight sun continuously gives light without a break. The more you move towards the south, the midnight sun becomes visible for a lesser time. In northern Norway, you can see the midnight sun from late April to August. At the pole, the Sun’s brightness during the night is like its light’s brightness at noon. Although there is no darkness in Norway, you can distinguish day and night in the change of brightness of the Sun.

Why does the midnight sun occur?

Every year in Nordkapp, Norway, the Sun shines nonstop for 1800 hours – a total of 75 days due to the physics of the Earth and the Sun.

As we all know, what makes night and day happen is Earth’s rotation in 24 hours. However, the difference in the length of daytime and nighttime varies as the Earth is tilted on its axis by 23.4 degrees.

Besides the rotation of its axis, the Earth also circles the Sun, which takes one whole year to complete. This is the same reason why we experience different seasons- at times, part of the Earth will be closer to the Sun than others; thus, summer occurs at different times of the year in the north and south hemispheres.

During the summer months, the hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun, and the poles experience full 24 hours of sunlight. When you are farther away from the pole, the Sun appears with a weaker brightness. Therefore, European countries not situated as northerly as Norway don’t experience the golden nighttimes of the midnight sun. However, with the Earth’s continuous movement as it orbits, the tilt gradually moves away from the Sun, and the darkness of night slowly returns.

The exact opposite of the midnight sun occurs during the winter season. During polar nights, the Sun doesn’t rise fully, bathing the landscape in a bluish light, like twilight, during the daytime.

How do the daylight hours change?

Once the summer solstice is over, daylight hours gradually get about a few minutes shorter each day. The sun sets earlier and rises later in the day until the far north again experiences winter darkness. The winter solstice experiences longer nights, which happen in the Northern Hemisphere around December 21.