Moai on Easter Island

Moai on Easter Island

Sunday, September 8, 2013

An Antarctic Spring Awakening

Well, the sun is up--finally.  Winter and the constant darkness don't seem real anymore.  In the evening twilight I try to remember how, just a month ago, the brightest part of the day was equivalent to the light hours after the sun now sets, but I can't seem to wrap my mind around that anymore.  The sun is up for over nine hours a day now and soon I, again, won't feel darkness until I leave here at the end of November.  Which is fine because I know I will be sunburnt to a crisp during my travels in New Zealand and Fiji on my way home.

Clouds above Mount Discovery and the Royal Society Range tell of a coming storm.
I've heard that this is one of the most beautiful times of the year in McMurdo.  If you are only in town I disagree.  So far the sunsets/sunrises haven't been as spectacular as they were in April.  But in April there wasn't the chance to get out onto the sea ice and get further away from station.  

Hundreds of frozen starfish reach for the winter sky at Cape Evans
Quite the contrast with the frozen landscape.
On a recent trip to Cape Evans I was able to experience the evening light away from station in a different way than when I was shooting sunsets from my window or from next to buildings in McMurdo like I did in April.

It was a much needed day on the sea ice. Just a little teaser of moving back to my (Antarctic) summer job in October and hints of the freedom that will soon present itself beyond Antarctica's frozen grasp.

Throughout the last 343 days in Antarctica I've seen a lot of pretty amazing things: I first thought my experience was complete after seeing Emperor Penguins up close on day 10.  But that was just the beginning.  The auroras completed my winter before the sun had fully set and the Nacreous clouds completed my spring before the sun had risen.  Seeing hundreds of starfish washed up on the shore at Cape Evans and frozen in place while reaching for the sky was one of the more unique things that I've seen here. 

Grounded icebergs near Cape Evans.  Only 10% of these show above the (frozen) water.
Amazing lighting on these icebergs and a fantastic sunset completed the day as we returned to McMurdo in the twilight.  I'm almost sad that the complete darkness seems so surreal now, but the sunlight is such a welcome phenomenom that it can't do much at this point except for burn the darkness from my memory.

The sun shines brightly over Big Razorback Island.

One of my favorite photos from that day.

I know I said the sunsets in April were better, but this one tops it.  I did absolutely no editing of the color in this image.  It really looked like this!

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