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I woke up this morning and went to the outhouse; it was pretty freaking cold outside. Cold and dark. The Sun is only out for a little over six hours today (rise at 9:29 am and sets at 3:41 pm). More importantly, it is cold! Depending on where in town you are it’s somewhere between -36 and -42 right now. It doesn’t really matter if you’re measuring in Celsius of Fahrenheit, since they are about the same at this temperature (exactly at -40).

Last night Jason (bookmark it!) and I witnessed a really cool display of light pillars, something that the friends and family that refuse to come here in winter will never see. We took a few pictures. I suffered slight frostbite on my right hand as I was trying to rest my camera against Jason’s metal roof rack on his car. I liked what he said: “you can’t complain about the cold until it’s dangerous; it’s dangerous now”.

Light Pillars over Fairbanks
This picture was taken from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks up on the hill near the entrance to the ski trails. The optical effect here is called a light pillar caused by reflection off of planar (horizontal) ice in the air. This usually only happens when it’s cold and the air is calm. This night it almost made it to 40 below at the airport (the green lights in the center/right.

airpot pillars

Pillars

We also get really good sundogs and light pillars on the Sun when it’s cold:
fairbanks sundog hdr

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