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On November 18, 2018, the town of Barrow, Alaska experienced its shortest Day of the Year, kicking off with the latest sunrise at 12:39pm.

Barrow Sea Ice Cam courtesy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks

Just 65 minutes later, the sun set — 1:43pm — and it won’t rise again January 23rd.

That’s 65 days, over two months, of darkness.

Barrow is north of the Arctic Circle, and areas north of the circle experience “polar night” every fall through winter. While civil twilight is still observed during this time, the true solar disk never moves above the horizon, which is why the area experiences “polar night”.

Obviously, it gets cold — really cold — in Barrow during polar night. Below are the average monthly temperatures for November, December and January. During the winter months, the average high can drop to -5 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and overnight temperatures can drop to -10 to -20 degrees.

There is a flip side to “polar night”: During the summer months, the same area experiences the “midnight sun”, in which the sun gets lower in the sky but does not go below the horizon. For nearly two months, the sun never “sets”, which means the sun is out, even at midnight!