Within the ring of the Arctic Circle is a phenomenon that defies all sense of time – months go by where the sun never rises and the night reigns supreme for week after week. This is the polar night.

What is the polar night?

The polar night is the term for when night lasts for more than 24 hours inside the polar circles. In this case, ‘night’ is defined as when the centre of the Sun is below the horizon. Not all latitudes are situated north enough to experience sustained total darkness; instead their brightest moments are levels of polar twilight that occur in the early afternoon before evening approaches and the darkness intensifies.

What causes the polar night?

The polar night is caused by the rotation of the earth in relation to the position of the sun. The earth rotates on a titled axis of around 23.5 degrees. As a result of this axial tilt, there are periods of the year where the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle are either completely exposed or obscured from the sun. When they are obscured it causes the prolonged darkness known as the polar night, while when they are exposed it creates a prolonged period of daylight known as the midnight sun.

You can see the axial tilt of the Earth visualised in the image below, as one pole is totally exposed to the sun while the other is completely obscured:

How long does the polar night last?

The full length of the polar night depends on your latitude. The average duration for most destinations is around 30 days, but more northerly locations can enjoy as almost two months of darkness. If you were situated at one of the poles this would last for around 11 weeks.

Where can I experience the polar night?

In Sweden’s most northern city of Kiruna, the polar night lasts for approximately 28 twenty-four-hour periods. In the Norwegian city of Tromsø, the dark hours can last for up to a month a half. If you visit Hammerfest, both the northernmost city in the world and one of the two oldest towns in Norway, the polar night lasts for almost two months.

Experience the polar night for yourself

If you would like to experience the polar night for yourself, we are eager to help. With are expertise, we can create a tailor made holiday package that combines the polar night with many of our destinations’ other exciting sights and sounds – the most popular being the Northern Lights. Take the first step to your dream vacation and contact us.

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