Sunday, August 13, 2017

Nautical Twilight is near

All continues to go well at the South Pole. My daughter Jocelyn and I completed our new book draft from our world bicycle ride with thanks to my wife Andee with editing. This book is much larger than our first and contains over 120,000 words and I recently sent it to our professional editor. We are really excited about this one as it is very different than our first book with many more stories without sticking to a day to day journal. I started writing when I arrived here last February and it took almost six months. Speaking of six months I have been here six months today with three more to go.

During the winter darkness it is difficult to walk the 3/4 mile from the station (right) to my work antennas (white domes on the far left). It doesn't snow at the South Pole (the driest desert in the world) but the snow blows in with winter storms from hundreds of miles away and stops at the first resistance it meets on the polar plateau, the South Pole station and surrounding buildings. Negotiating the large snow drifts during the 40 minute walk with just a red headlamp can be quite the challenge.

As in my 2013 South Pole winter I exercised my way to McMurdo Station on the coast 835 miles away by jogging the station passageways and stairs, riding the stationary bike and rowing. It took five months.

On the bottom right I have started the return trip to the Pole. Soon there will be light and I will be jogging outside on the skiway!

Mail! Not really but my wife had several cards hidden in my duffel bag that I have enjoyed this season. This is our 5th anniversary in a row apart. Maybe I will be home for our next one. 

Various cards and pictures in my room. 

On station in the Satcom office working the overnight satellite coverage. 

The small green screen on the right monitor shows our signal from here uplinked to a Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) satellite then downlinked to an similar antenna in Christchurch, New Zealand. From there the data is relayed and processed in Denver, Colorado. 

More awesome pictures by Hunter Davis. This one showing our Milky Way galaxy along with a few other distant ones. 

South Pole aurora storms by Hunter Davis.

The ceremonial pole.

I am looking forward to the sun but will really miss the incredible night sky views such as this. 

Nautical twilight occurs on the 21st of August. The sun will then be 12 degrees below the horizon. It is called nautical twilight because there will be enough light on the horizon to navigate with a sextant. Sunrise occurs on September 22nd. 


  1. Congrats on finishing the book and your run...happy anniversary coming up soon. Love to read your stories. Janice n charlie

    1. Thank you Janice and Charlie. It is always nice to hear from you. We hope to have our book published by the end of the year.

  2. Yippee! 2/3 of the time on the South Pole and you are sharing your amazing pictures still. THANK YOU! I noticed that my school picture is not on a dart board....and I hope we do share our next anniversary together somewhere. I would like to be somewhere cooler and Anna said we can visit her home in North Carolina anytime! She is so generous and after a month in Poland she will return and then spend time in Nicaragua. There are several reasons to travel and I know it helps to have friends! We are excited about the solar eclipse on our Aug. 21st. We are not allowed to take the students outside, but I will find a way to sneak a peak! Take care and stay warm and focused!
    Love always, andee

  3. Mike, you don't know me, but I know your wife and her family. I was Andee's Confirmation Sponsor and our moms were both called "Polly" and loved God and Family! The Clitheroe family was an important part of my early years and reconnecting with Andee via FB has been a blessing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I am a believer of prayer and am a Pray warrior. May God keep you safe and watch over you as I understand you have some health issues. Bless you Mike and your family. PS - your Blog is wonderful and so easy to understand what is happening in your world! Thank you for your service to the North Pole.