Sunday, April 7, 2013

The South Pole Sunset Dinner

An Antarctic tradition is the Sunset meal, a large and semi-fancy affair that coincides with sunset. The sunset occurred on March 21st with the meal on the 23rd. Our next big meal occurs on June 21st, mid-winter.

A reflection from the silver ball. Holding the sun on my arm.

A view of the setting sun on Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station taken at 1 am.

A last dramatic view.
The last two days have been cloudy so this picture shows the last I saw of the sun on March 21, our Autumn equinox. We will have about two weeks of "civil twilight" during which Venus and the brightest stars appear. When the sun is 6-12 degrees below the horizon there will be "nautical twilight" during which it will become dark but with an obvious glow in the direction of the sun. Eventually the sun will drop 12-18 degrees below the horizon "astronomical twilight" and it will be very dark until the sun starts rising in about six months. Bring on the "Southern Cross" and the Austral Auroras!
This is a refraction 5 days after sunset.

The South Pole flags are removed for the winter and new ones will be installed at station opening in November. The countries representing the Antarctic Treaty are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Russia, Great Britain and the United States of America.

The Australian flag is replaced and will fly all winter in memory of Dr. Rodney Marks, an astrophysicist, who died at the South Pole in 2000.

The Antarctic Treaty was signed in Washington on 1 December 1959 by the twelve countries whose scientists had been active in and around Antarctica during the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58. It entered into force in 1961 and has since been acceded to by many other nations. The total number of Parties to the Treaty is now 50.

The flags will fly in the galley for the rest of the season along with new flags that will be placed at the South Pole marker come station opening in November.

We are now seeing an atmospheric refraction of the sun as it drops in elevation.

This refraction causes the sun to appear higher than it is.

The sun refraction to the left of the RF Building, GOES and SPTR radomes my work areas.

Extra place settings for those that have died while serving at the South Pole.

I was on the decorating committee.

A very nice setting.

From the galley window - The lonely Australian flag flying for Dr. Rodney Marks.

While decorating the galley, the station manager said we would have a fireplace...he was right.

Enjoying a Fat Tire before dinner. Thanks dad for the cool tie that had lots of compliments and to my wife for packing it.

The chefs hard at work. They provided a 12 course sampling meal served over 2 hours. Excellent.

The scallops were my favorite.

I really like the Argentina flag.

Trying to find a new planet! Actually observing the "green flash" from the sun. At the South Pole it is more blue.

To celebrate sunset and the beginning of our winter we had a two day weekend. The power plant trained volunteers to make the rounds and take readings so that they could have some time off.

I'm always looking for something different to do so I became a volunteer power plant operator to read and record vital power plant measurements.

I'm always up early so I did the Sunday 6 am rounds.
After the power plant rounds I went running in the lowest temperatures so far this season: -81 degF ambient and -121 degF windchill. I shortened my usual 6-8 mile run to 3 miles as I was getting too cold. I am going to rethink my running outside. The frosty look is frozen sweat.


  1. Really cool pictures and lots of interesting info....are you nuts? No more running outside. That is really dangerous! I like the face hair but the length is a bit too long....time for a trim. Can you recycle your hair? All trash is taken off the Pole area, right? Enjoy those moon shots...Love always, Andee

  2. It is too dark to run outside. I don't like the treadmills so I run the passageways and down the beercan (-53 deg). Utilizing the stairs it is a good workout. I'm letting the beard grow just to see how long it gets. Yes, all trash is removed except for sewage. Eons from now huge chunks of frozen raw sewage will calve into the Southern Ocean on an iceberg.

  3. hahah fireplace on a cruel. At least ya'll had scallops.