midnight sun

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A midnight sun seen at 12:05 am somewhere in the Arctic Circle


midnight sun (usually uncountable, plural midnight suns)

  1. The phenomenon occurring when the Sun does not set but only approaches the horizon at midnight; it occurs near the summer solstice in the polar regions.
    • 1806 November, “Observanda Externa [Lapland. North Cape.]”, in The Literary Panorama. [], volume I, London: Printed by Cox, Son, and Baylis, [] for C. Taylor, [], published 1807, OCLC 176276973, column 414:
      He has only retained three engravings; namely, a map of the country, which is very little known, from Torneo to North Cape; a View of Torneo by the midnight moon; and a View of North Cape by the midnight sun.
    • 1856 August 28, Alfred B[illings] Street, Science: A Poem Dedicated to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Albany, August 28, 1856, Albany, N.Y.: Van Benthuysen, printer, [], OCLC 320049539, page 6:
      Locked icebergs splintering through the awful night; / And quenchless midnight suns with their wild scarlet light.
    • 1863 January 3, “The Sleep of Plants”, in William and Robert Chambers, editors, Chambers’s Journal of Popular Literature, Science and Arts, volume XIX, number 470, London; Edinburgh: Printed and published by W. & R. Chambers, [], OCLC 793924257, pages 15–16:
      This wonderful midnight sun has a peculiar effect on the polar vegetation. Although the foliage of ligneous plants, such as shrubs and trees, which here sink down to the condition of dwarfs, is tough and coriaceous, and of a dark and sombre green, gloomy as the long night of the polar world, yet in the steady light which comes from the sun as he circulates above the horizon for weeks, that sombre green tint of the foliage is beautifully softened in the grasses and other herbaceous plants.
    • 1868, J[oseph] Norman Lockyer, “Lesson XII.—The Earth’s Movements. Rotation. Movement Round the Sun. Succession of Day and Night.”, in Elementary Lessons in Astronomy, London: Macmillan and Co., OCLC 457523625, paragraph 171, page 70:
      But when we come to the winter solstice, we get no more midnight suns: as shown in the figure, all the circle is situated in the shaded portion; hence, again in spite of the Earth's rotation, we cannot get out of the darkness, and we do not see the Sun even at noonday.
    • 1894, J[oseph] Norman Lockyer, “The Midnight Sun”, in Spitzbergen and Norway in August 1894: Pleasure Cruise to the “Land of the Midnight Sun” and the Spizbergen Polar Sea, by the Orient Company’s S. S. “Lusitania,” Leaving London August 1st, 1894, London: Sampson Low, Marston & Company, Limited. [], OCLC 557975934, page 61:
      Like the seasons, the "Midnight Sun" has its origin in the inclination of the earth's axis during its annual motion. [] The effect of this inclination is to produce variations in the length of the day to such an extent, that in polar regions the duration of sunlight is reckoned in months instead of hours.
    • 1907, Robert W[illiam] Service, “The Cremation of Sam McGee”, in The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses, New York, N.Y.: Barse & Hopkins, publishers, OCLC 938188849, page 50:
      There are strange things done in the midnight sun / By the men who moil for gold; / The Arctic trails have their secret tales / That would make your blood run cold; / The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, / But the queerest they ever did see / Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge / I cremated Sam McGee.


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