Sunrises & Sunsets


Unlike most places around the world in Fairbanks, Sunsets and Sunrises are seasonal. While at first glance this statement may seem ludicris, you must realize that in order to have either a Sunrise of Sunset you first have to have a period of darkness. And oddly enough in the land of the midnight sun between late May through early August darkness is distinctly in short supply up here.

These first five pictures were taken in late September. The morning of thise paticular shots there was a hard frost on the ground and a heavy mist had formed over the warm waters of Lake Raihoi.




As the sun slowly began to rise on the horizon, the heavy mist on the lake began to fade, and to my delight some Mallard ducks, and Loons began paddling around.







I'm not sure if this was really part or a sunrise or was part of a rare dawn aurora. The following three photographs were taken in fall facing due West from my roof between 6:45 - 7:15 in the morning. The size of this event was huge, perhaps twenty to thirty miles wide and I might add here that it occured during the period of high auroral activity.

As you can clearly see the redish light extends well below the hoizon which indicates that this is not a normal sunrise. Another unussual attribute of this event was the way this effect swept across the sky while its redish arms extended out at varrying angles from its main body. The Entire event lasted 10-15 minutes after which dawn continued to the east for almost another 20 minutes.





The following two sunrise photos were taken in mid-December from the Wendal Street Bridge in downtown Fairbanks.




The next two photos are sunsets taken from the south eastern shore of Lake Raihoi in the first the horizon is decidedly golden. Yet in the second shot taken some twenty minutes later that same evening the horizon turned from gold to this wonderful deep red-orange.



The next two shots were taken on a trail in a wooded area in August. As luck would have it I was able to get off a few snapshots of the sun just as it fell below the horizon. At the time I thought it was too dark and that the photos would come poorly, you can imagine my surprise when I developed this roll.




Where I grew up in New York, (Larchmont) dawn was roughly a 30-40 minute process. Beginning in darkness the birds would start to sing and flutter about, then a light breeze would kick in, after which the horizon would then light up until the sun rose into the morning sky. The same held true in other place I lived like Virginia Beach, Virginia; Augusta, Georgia; and even Barstow, California.

In Alaska and more particularly Fairbanks and vacinity things are quite diferent with dawn typically taking its own sweet time to work it's magic. I am told by those more learned than myself that this is due in large part to Fairbanks extreme angle with the sun. While I realize that the actual act of the sunrise is a 5 - 10 minute event, the actual time spent from first light until sunrise can take from 2-3 hours.

During the months of June and July there is no real night up here because the sun is circling just below the horizon, making it so bright out, that in the middle of any clear night you can read the want ads section of a newspaper up here. This makes not only Sunrises and Sunsets disapppear but the Aurora Borealis as well.




While living in California I noticed that Sunsets were considerably longer than when I had lived at roughly the same lattitude on the east coast. Sunsets in Fairbanks are much longer than California's taking sometimes 4 - 5 hours before the sky finally grows dark. Because of this photography of Sunsets up here are quite easy.

The following shot was one of several taken in early August around midnight. Chasing these hot air balloons as they traveled South-East across Fairbanks from Farmer's Loop to College Road I wanted to get a shot as they passed directly in front of the setting midnight sun.

Cutting down a side street I came upon to a school yard containing swings and a jungle gym at approximately the right angle for this shot. However after climbing the Jungle gym I quickly discovered that it was not tall enough to see beyound the shrubbery behind the school looking at the only other thing availible to me at the time I climbed up the swingset constructed of 4x4's and walked along the top rail until I gould get a clear shot of the Balloons as they passed the setting sun. (actually I had to lead as far as I dared over the side to get the shot you see.) I worked this photo a lot in photo shop to bring out the colors of the balloons which at the time were highly visible on the untouched photo the ballons were almost black .



Best Sunrises and Sunsets

Sunrises & Sunsets

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NOTE: Unlike so much of the phenomenon in the Fairbanks area beautiful Sunrises and Sunsets are almost always a daily occurance, with exception of course of heavy cloud cover. When planning your trip to Fairbanks you can always check the local five day weather forecast Online at the bottom of Alaskan Dreams opening page or Call the Fairbanks Weather Service at: (907) ---------.