The midnight sun (also known as the black sun) is a natural phenomenon occurring in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south of the Arctic Circle, and south and nearby to the north of the Antarctic Circle where the sun remains visible at the local midnight. Given fair weather, the sun is visible for a continuous 24 hours, mostly north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. The number of days per year with potential midnight sun increases the farther poleward one goes.
There are no permanent human settlements south of the Antarctic Circle, so the countries and territories whose populations experience it are limited to the ones crossed by the Arctic Circle, i.e. Canada, United States of America (Alaska), Denmark (Greenland), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and extremities of Iceland. A quarter of Finland's territory lies north of the Arctic Circle and at the country's northernmost point the sun does not set for 73 days during summer. In Svalbard, Norway, the northernmost inhabited region of Europe, there is no sunset from approximately 19 April to 23 August. The extreme sites are the poles where the sun can be continuously visible for a half year.
Since the Earth's axis is tilted with respect to the ecliptic by approximately 23 degrees 27 minutes, the sun does not set at high latitudes in (local) summer. The duration of the midnight sun increases from one day during the summer solstice at the polar circle to approximately six months at the poles. At extreme latitudes, it is usually referred to as polar day. The length of the time the sun is above the horizon varies from 20 hours at the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle to 186 days at the poles.
At the poles themselves, the sun only rises once and sets once, each year. During the six months when the sun is above the horizon at the poles, the sun spends the days constantly moving around the horizon, reaching its highest circuit of the sky at the summer solstice.
Due to refraction, the midnight sun may be experienced at latitudes slightly below the polar circle, though not exceeding one degree (depending on local conditions). For example, it is possible to experience the midnight sun in Iceland, even though most of it (Grímsey being a notable exception) is slightly south of the Arctic Circle. Even the northern extremities of Scotland (and those places on similar latitudes) experience a permanent "dusk" or glare in the northern skies at these times.
- Main article: White Nights
Locations above 60 degrees latitude that are south of the Arctic Circle or north of the Antarctic Circle experience midnight twilight instead. The sun is at the horizon to 6 degrees below the horizon, so that daytime activities, such as reading, are still possible without artificial light, on the condition it is not cloudy.
White Nights have become a common symbol of Saint Petersburg, Russia, where they occur from about 11 June to 2 July, and the last 10 days of June are celebrated with cultural events.
When to see the midnight sunEdit
At North Cape, Norway, known as the northernmost point of Europe this period extends approximately from May 14 to July 29. On the Svalbard archipelago further north this period extends from April 20 to August 22.
Effect on peopleEdit
Many find it difficult to fall asleep during the night when the sun is shining. In general, visitors and newcomers are most affected. Some natives are also affected, but in general to a lesser degree. The effect of the midnight sun, that is, not experiencing night for long durations of time is said to cause hypomania, which is characterized by persistent and pervasive elevated or irritable mood.
The midnight sun also poses special challenges to religious people such as Jewish people who have religious rites based around the 24 hour day/night cycle. In the Jewish community this has given rise to a body of Jewish law in the polar regions, which attempts to deal with the special challenges of adhering to the Mitzvah in such conditions.
Midnight sun in fictionEdit
- In the film Insomnia and its American remake, the protagonist suffers from insomnia partially brought on by midnight sun while investigating a murder north of the Arctic Circle (Norway in the original, and Alaska in the remake).
- Midnight Sun is also the title of an unreleased, uncompleted vampire novel in the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.
- The Midnight Sun is an episode of The Twilight Zone, however the midnight sun is caused by Earth's collision course towards the sun.
Midnight sun in musicEdit
- Midnight Sun is the last track on the 1998 album Better Than Raw by the German power metal band Helloween.
- Midnight Sun is a hidden track on the 1999 album Black Sails In The Sunset by the American band AFI.
- Midnight Sun is in the lyrics of a Beck song titled "Qué Onda Guero" from the album Guero.
- Midnight Sun is the tenth track on the album Medazzaland by the UK band Duran Duran.
- Midnight Sun is in the lyrics of The Killers song titled "Dustland Fairytale". The line says, Is there still magic in the midnight sun, or did you leave it back in '61?
- Midnight Sun is in the lyrics of a Bruce Springsteen song titled "She's The One" from the album Born To Run. "With her long hair falling / And her eyes that shine like a midnight sun / Oh she's the one."
- Midnight Sun is also in the lyrics of Led Zeppelin's song Immigrant Song. The song was inspired by the band's 1970 tour of Iceland.
- Journey's 1983 song "Faithfully" opens with the lyrics "Highway run/Into the midnight sun"
- Midnight Sun is in the lyrics of Poison's song "Ride The Wind" from the album "Flesh & Blood". "Ride the wind / Never coming back until I touch the midnight sun".
- Midnight Sun is a jazz standard with music by Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke and lyrics by Johnny Mercer.
- Midnight Sun is in the lyrics of Warren Zevon's Roland The Headless Thompson Gunner "Roland was a warrior from the land of the midnight sun."
- Midnight Sun is the name of the eighth track off the album Crossing the Rubicon by Swedish new wave band The Sounds.
- Midnight Sun is in the lyrics of Nights of Love by Papa Roach on their album Metamorphosis 'Dancing with the Devil in the Midnight Sun."
- Midnight Sunrise is a song by the Finnish folk metal band Turisas, on the album Battle Metal in 2004. The album was released on Century Media.
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- Eagle Summit, which experiences midnight sun despite being south of the Arctic Circle.
- Land of the Midnight Sun
- Polar night - The opposite phenomenon experienced in winter: A day without sunrise.
- Visit Norway - Midnight Sun Page
- Midnight sun seen from Fjellheisen Tromsø - 360 panoramaaf:Middernagson
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