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Why Doesn't the Sun Set?

The polar regions are called the "lands of the midnight sun" because in the summer, the sun never sets. Why?

The Earth is tilted in its axis - an imaginary line through the planet between the north and south poles around which it rotates. The tilt always points the same way in space.

The area around the equator is consistently close to the sun, but the areas around the poles are not.

As the Earth orbits around the Sun, that tilt makes the North Pole face towards the sun in summer (keeping it in sunlight even as the Earth spins) and away from it in winter (keeping it dark). This means that the Pole gets continuous sunlight (yes, even at midnight) during the summer, but doesn't get any sunlight at all during the winter.

The northern and southern hemispheres experience opposite seasons as the Earth moves around the sun. While the North Pole is in constant darkness (winter), the South Pole is in constant sunlight (summer). For example, in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the winter - in the Southern Hemisphere (like Australia) Christmas is in the summer.

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Click pictures for more information and credits.
Library: Arctic
Sky/Seasons
Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice
Links: Guide to Arctic Sunrise & Sunset
Arctic, Sunrise & Sunset, Definitions
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports


Double-click any unlinked word DICTIONARY: Just "double-click" any unlinked word on this page for the definition from Merriam-Webster's Student Electronic Dictionary at Word Central.
Arctic Library ARCTIC LIBRARY & GLOSSARY: Check this section for an index of the rest of the things you really need to know about the Arctic.
All sorts of Arctic Maps ARCTIC MAPS & WEATHER REPORTS: Maps of the Northwest Passage, explorers' routes, iceberg sources, Nunavut, the Arctic by treeline, temperature...
Links to related sites. ARCTIC LINKS: Even more information! Links to sites related to the Arctic and "Iceberg: the Story of the Throps and the Squallhoots".
A Guide to Arctic Sunrise and Sunset GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?

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