You are currently viewing Daylight Saving Time Feels Weird When You Have 84 White Nights

Day light saving time was introduced to allow for longer evenings which people could use for shopping and eating out. Did you ever think about what it means when you have White Nights?


  1. What are the benefits of daylight saving time
  2. Why daylight-saving time makes no sense in High Latitudes
    • The odds of White Nights
  3. Alaska’s size would justify four time zones
    • Local noon and official noon differ at the Last Frontier
  4. The time of the year and outfit photos
  5. What do Sourdoughs associate with time saving

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What are the benefits of daylight saving time

Daylight saving time is to allow for extended daylight in the evening. An hour more of daylight on a nice summer evening is great for shopping, a walk on the beach, stroll downtown in a street mall, sitting outside in a bistro, restaurant or dress for a picnic to meet with friends in the park. Daylight-saving time improves the quality of life for people and helps the economy.

Why daylight-saving time makes no sense in High Latitudes

Pushing the clock forward in spring and back in fall makes sense in regions with about equal length of day and night, but not in in regions with latitudes higher than 60oN or S. Due to the angle of the Earth’s rotation axis to the planetary ecliptic, the Sun’s light (insolation) cannot reach the High Latitudes in the respective hemisphere’s winter. Once the Sun gets again above the horizon, it is still very low and the light is pink in Interior Alaska in January.

In a hemisphere’s summer, the High Latitudes, i.e. the polar regions have daylight all the time. The Sun doesn’t set below the horizon north of the Arctic or south of the Antarctic Circle in northern and southern hemispheric summer, respectively.

diagram showing the time of sunrise and sunset in Interior Alaska
Annual course of sun rise and sun set in Fairbanks, Alaska. Twillight is about two hours. In mid August, enough daylight is lost that there are dark nights again and the aurora can again be seen in clear sky nights


The above plot shows the annual cycle of sunrise and sunset in Fairbanks plus the legal twilight. At winter solstice, Fairbanks only has 10856 s of daylight. Around equinox, there is already/still more daylight than in the Lower 48.

You can imagine that in Interior Alaska, daylight-saving time fails to improve quality of the life in summer in the way described above. The nights are white to begin with. In spring, the switch to daylight-saving time annoys every Alaskan, especially moms. On Monday after daylight saving time starts, these poor ladies have to get their kids out of bed an hour earlier than the Monday before. If you have a kid, you know what I am talking about!

Spring forward, fall back. #daylightsaving Click To Tweet

Only in fall, however, daylight-saving time improves the Alaska quality of life on the weekend when we switch back to winter time. On that weekend, Alaskans have one hour of night more to watch the aurora. 😉

style blogger wearing an eclectic look with camouflage pants, sequin top, sweater, booties, statement necklace

Alaskan blogger in sequin top under sweater, camouflage pants standing in high snow

light condition for outfit photos in Alaska around equinox
Hunter green cashmere sweater, shearling boots, Hermes collier de chien bangle, Ray Ban sunglasses, smoky quartz necklace, layering top, sequin top (all own), brown, black, hunter green camouflage pants c/o Femme Luxe, and best girlfriends bracelet c/o Chicos


Like this spring outfit? If so, it would help me if you pinned them to your own Pinterest board. It’s a great way that your friends, family, and others can see them too.

The Odds of White Nights

Having daylight 24/7 is very energizing. Many people have trouble sleeping. The lawn grows around the clock. You see/hear people mowing their lawn at 2am in the night. On the Saturday around summer solstice, there is even a baseball game without floodlight that starts at 10 pm. It’s a Must-see when you are in Fairbanks as a tourist at that time.

The White Nights also mean there are no fireworks on Independence Day in Interior Alaska. You wouldn’t be able to see them. Despite some cheechako (pronounced chée-CHA-ko; Chinook word for someone not born in Alaska or for someone who has lived there less than 20 years; greenhorn, newcomer) buy them in the local grocery stores for their 4th of July party.

Speaking of fireworks. Can you imagine that the lack of Independence Day fireworks can be a drama for parents when they just recently moved to Alaska?

Speaking of parents. You know you live in High Latitudes when you never say to your kid “come home when it gets dark.” In Fairbanks, you wouldn’t see your kid for up to 84 days!

In late August, people in the Interior “celebrate the day of light.” It means when the nights come back, you realize the broken light bulbs.

The peculiar light conditions of High Latitudes also lead to the odd association of daylight with warm and darkness with frigid cold. Being used to dark days and white nights confuses you big time when you travel to low or mid latitudes.


Alaska’s size would justify four time zones

Before clocks, watches and cell phones became available to keep track of time, noon was when when the Sun was highest in the sky. Not today, and especially not in Alaska. In 1983, Alaska’s four time zones became one time zone – Alaska Standard Time which is EST minus four hours.

Local noon and official noon differ at the Last Frontier

Since Alaska encompasses an area that reaches from coast to coast when projected onto the Lower 48s or in other words 57.5 degrees of longitude, many places have their local noon not when the digital world claims it to be noon. Solar noon at about 11:45 pm 12:35 pm, 1:45 pm in Juneau, Fairbanks and Nome, respectively. In Fairbanks, the earliest and latest sunrise are at 2:59 am on June 14 and 11:00 am on December 27. The earliest and latest sunset are at 2:39 pm on December 14 and at 12:47 am on June 26. In spring, Alaska daylight savings time means  being another hour more out of  sync with the Sun. In a nutshell, in  Nome, Anchorage and Fairbanks, Alaska time is about three, two and two hours off of solar noon.


The time of the year and outfit photos

In summer, you can take outfit photos at any time of the day – even at midnight. During winter, the frigid cold is just one problem to bear. The long dark nights and the low daylight conditions are another great challenge for outfit photos in the Arctic. The photos below show typical March light conditions.

Alaskan lifestyle blogger in spring outfit with long leather coat

older woman in maxi leather skirt with sweater around equinox

Outfit details: LeatherCoatsEtc long winter white R&O leather coat with quilted lining, unbranded Indian wool-wrap scarf, LeatherCoatsEtc leather gloves, GNW leopard print tights, Ray Ban Jackie O. sunglasses, YSL bag, Nine West plateau loafers, Oliveo long leather skirt, GNW Luxe cashmere wool sweater, Hermes enamel bangles, Hermes collier de chien bangle.


What do Sourdoughs associate with time saving

In rural Alaska, people measure the time in fishes. You may hear someone saying something like “Oh, that was fishes ago.” Fish refers to the salmon fishing season. Thus, fishes ago means years ago.

Alaskan women think of time saving when shopping. You don’t want to be inside when the Sun is outside. Being bundled up inside and having your car idling in the parking lot outside also contribute to trying to save time when shopping.


Photos: G. Kramm

© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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