UTQUIAGVIK, Alaska – After 65 days without sun, Utqiaġvik, Alaska, finally saw a taste on Monday. For the first time this year, the Alaskan community about 320 miles north of the Arctic Circle finally welcomed the sunrise at 1:03 p.m.
The last time the nearly 4,500 residents saw the sun was November 18, 2022.
Photographer Mark Mahaney visited the northernmost city in the United States to witness the first sunrise of the year in 2022. He asked Alaskan residents, police and Iñupiat Natives what it was like to live in the dark. He called the city in winter an “energetically heavy place”.
“It was a very busy place that time of year in the city. Crime spikes, different abuses spike,” Mahaney said. “The local police department gets random calls from citizens who say they feel disoriented, don’t know what time of day it is, or don’t know what day of the week it is.”
For the next few days, Utqiaġvik will get around 25 minutes of sunshine per day. On February days net residents get about 10 minutes more sunshine per day
In mid-March, daylight illuminates the city for about 12 hours. On March 23, the sun still slips below the horizon, but not by much. Utqiaġvik will then be at dusk throughout the night.
The last time the sky was in total darkness for any length of time was on April 23rd. Utqiagvik, formally called Barrow, becomes the land of the midnight sun on May 12, 2023. The sun will not dip below the horizon again until August 2.
Winter the skies aren’t completely dark during the winter, though. While the sun is below the horizon, the very low angle of the sun keeps the area in varying degrees of twilight.