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Utqiaġvik Residents Welcome the Sun After 65 Days of Darkness

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On Monday, the small Alaskan community of Utqiaġvik, located 320 miles north of the Arctic circle, finally saw the sun again after 65 days of darkness. Despite the brief glimpse, with the sun rising at 1:03 p.m. and setting at 2:15 p.m., the residents of Utqiaġvik were overjoyed to see the sun again after the last one was seen on November 18, 2022.

Photographer Mark Mahaney traveled to the northernmost town in the U.S. to document the first sunrise of the year and to hear from the residents, police and Iñupiat Alaskan Natives about what it’s like to live in the dark. He described the town during the winter as an “energetically heavy place.”

“It was a very intense place to be during that time of year in the town. The crime spikes, different abuse goes up,” said Mahaney. “The local police department gets random calls from citizens saying that they feel disoriented, that they don’t know what time of day it is, or they don’t know the day of the week it is.”

As the days progress, the residents of Utqiaġvik will have the opportunity to experience an increasing amount of sunlight. In the coming days, the town will see an additional 25 minutes of sun each day. By the time February rolls around, residents can expect to see an extra 10 minutes of daylight each day. As we move into mid-March, the town will be bathed in sunlight for 12 hours a day. Even on March 23rd, when the sun dips below the horizon, the town will remain in a state of twilight throughout the entire night.

The residents of Utqiagvik, also known as Barrow, will have to wait until April 23rd for complete darkness again. However, starting May 12th, 2023 the town will be bathed in the light of the midnight sun, with the sun remaining visible until August 2nd. Despite the sun being below the horizon during winter, the low angle of the sun ensures that the town is enveloped in a perpetual state of twilight.

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