Hello, adventurers and travel enthusiasts! Welcome to Alaska, a realm of wonder where the sun hardly ever says goodbye during the summer. As we approach the summer solstice—typically June 20 or June 21—prepare to be enchanted by an abundance of daylight, a unique phenomenon that turns our everyday activities into extraordinary experiences.
Have you ever wondered why Alaska enjoys such luxuriously long summer days? Well, the answer lies in the tilt of our beautiful Earth. As we make our 365-day journey around the sun, the northern hemisphere faces the sun during the summer months. The Earth’s tilt ensures we’re pointed towards the sun in the same direction all year long, and the day we’re most directly facing the sun is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.
Here’s where it gets exciting! How much daylight we bask in depends on where you are in Alaska. The farther north you go, the longer the day. Imagine a day that lasts 24 hours just north of Fairbanks! And if we consider civil twilight (the time when there’s enough light to function without artificial assistance), all days between June 8 and July 5 offer a full 24 hours of daylight or civil twilight in Anchorage. Fairbanks, meanwhile, luxuriates in more than 70 days of this phenomenon.
Contrary to popular belief, we don’t “make up for it in winter.” In fact, throughout the year, every location in Alaska receives more daylight than any place in the Lower 48. This is due to two fascinating reasons. First, at high latitudes, the sun follows a more diagonal path, which extends the duration of sunrise and sunset. Second, the Earth moves more slowly around the sun in the summer, allowing the sun to stay at its highest position for a longer period.
Did you know? Barrow experiences a staggering 79 days of continuous daylight in summer, compared to only 61 days of winter without sunrise. This is why the Arctic Circle enjoys the most annual daylight in the northern hemisphere, receiving a whopping 219 additional daylight hours compared to the equator over the course of a year. Include civil twilight into the equation, and the coastal plain north of the Brooks Range emerges as the champion, clocking in 828 more annual light hours (daylight plus twilight) than the equator!
So, the next time someone mentions Alaska’s dark winters, remember, we’re not only the largest state but also the brightest! Embrace the joy of our extended daylight hours and make the most of your Alaskan adventure. Whether you’re hiking, fishing, or just marveling at the natural beauty, there’s always time to do more in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Hours of Daylight in Alaska:
Utqiaġvik: 24 hrs 0 min
Huslia: 23 hrs 37 min
Tanana: 22 hrs 16 min
Fairbanks: 21 hrs 50 min
Unalakleet: 20 hrs 55 min
Anchorage: 19 hrs 21 min
Juneau: 18 hrs 16 min
Ketchikan: 17 hrs 27 min
Adak: 16 hrs 42 min