Which do you prefer? Long summer days when the sun doesn’t set until late in the day? Or short winter days when it gets dark shortly after school is out? If you’re like most kids, you probably prefer those long summer days.
If you want to maximize your sunlight during the summer, you might want to head north. WAY up north! How far north? Try the Arctic Circle!
During the summer, the sun does not set above the Arctic Circle. In fact, this phenomenon is what helps to define the Arctic Circle. Like the equator, the Arctic Circle is an imaginary line. It’s defined as the latitude above which the sun does not set on the day of the summer solstice (usually around June 21).
North of the Arctic Circle, periods of constant sunshine last for up to six months of the year at the North Pole. The opposite is also true for parts of the year, though. Above the Arctic Circle, the sun never rises on the day of the winter solstice (usually around December 21). Do you think you could live somewhere where it’s always day for half of the year and always night for the other half of the year?
There are several countries with areas within or that border the Arctic Circle. Many people call such areas “the land of the midnight sun,” because in summer the sun can often be seen past midnight. Some of these areas include the northernmost parts of Canada, Greenland, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Alaska and Iceland.
If you really love the sun, you might think about a spring and summer vacation to Svalbard, Norway. The sun doesn’t set there from about April 19 to August 23 each year!
This phenomenon occurs because the Earth is tilted on its axis by approximately 23 degrees. At the poles (both north and south), this means that the sun only rises and sets once each year.
Of course, these phenomena aren’t limited to only northern areas. They also occur in southern regions near the Antarctic Circle. However, there are no permanent human settlements near the Antarctic Circle, so very few people experience these phenomena there.
The people who live in these areas eventually get used to the constant sunlight/darkness for extended periods of time. Newcomers or visitors, though, often find it hard to adjust and may have trouble sleeping, especially when the sun is shining all night long.