Summer solstice, 1995, I spent the night in Antarctica in an ice cave that I built with my fellow survival school classmates. The policy was that if you were going to winter-over on the ice, you had to go to survival school. You had to learn how to build an ice cave, how to start a diesel heater, how to self-arrest if falling into a glacier and many other things.
But what I learned out on the ice shelf just off of McMurdo Station is that on the solstice, the sun stays at high noon all day. This was an amazing revelation to me. I understood that the planet tilts back and forth and that makes our seasons, but being at the bottom of the Earth on the day of maximum tilt and seeing the sun directly above making the tiniest little circle in the sky allowed me to fully understand how our planet works and how wonderful it is that our globe wobbles.
I also learned that if you are in the Navy, which I wasn’t but some of my survival school mates were, they’ll send out a helicopter and airdrop a case of beer and some pudding packs onto your survival camp. Sharing cold beer and pudding with friends in your very own ice cave on the summer solstice makes for a real nice way to celebrate full tilt.
If you’d like to take a peak into the world of Antarctica a number of bases now have webcams. My favorite is at Palmer Station.
Here’s a link to:
- United States Antarctic Program Webcams
- Australian Antarctic Division Webcams
- British Antarctic Survey Webcams
- Antarctic New Zealand Webcams
- Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory
Let’s all be thankful that our little blue planet wobbles. Now get some friends together, share a beverage, some dessert and celebrate full tilt!