Sun sets on Scott Base

02:00, Apr 25 2012
scott base
IN DARKNESS: Scott Base winter leader Simon Shelton takes advantage of the last sunshine for four months in Antarctica.

As Christchurch continues to bask in bright sunshine, the team at Scott Base in Antarctica will not see the sun again for four months.

The sun set in Antarctica on Tuesday at 1.10pm after being up for just 39 minutes. It will not rise again until August 19, when it will be seen for just an hour and 40 minutes.

Scott Base winter leader Simon Shelton said he and others in the 14-strong team at the base during the winter travelled about 10 kilometres in an all-terrain vehicle on Tuesday to see the sunset for the last time this autumn.

He said it was an amazing day to see the sun - a stark contrast to the previous day, when a condition 1 storm saw wind speeds of up to 180kmh.

This will be Shelton's first winter at Scott Base.

''It's interesting. It's definitely different. You look out the window now and it's always dark. It's strange.''


People who stayed at the base over winter had to endure rigorous psychological testing before they got the job, and they also had various ways of coping with the lack of sunshine, Shelton said.

''As a group, you look out for each other. It's quite a challenging period and it's hard to relate that to people not experiencing it.''

He said some people had lights with alarm clocks on them where the light gradually got brighter over half an hour to simulate the sun rising.

The lack of sunshine meant the team appreciated the Moon and the stars a lot more, Shelton said.

No flights would be going in or out of Antarctica until the sun appeared again in August.

''The fresh fruit and veges are just starting to run out. The apples are going soft.''

The chef had a few tricks to make the fresh food last a little longer, Shelton said. ''The apples are waxed and the eggs are oiled.''

Just the essential services team is left at Scott Base during the winter months, when maintenance is carried out in preparation for the summer season.

The Press