In December and January, the daylight in Interior Alaska is salmon pink. Thus, when you see an OOTD photo shot at that time of the year on a clear day, it looks like someone applied a kitschy filter or like you are looking thru pink colored shades. But actually this pinkish shades are the natural beauty of winter in Alaska.

The physics behind pink skies

The sun barely comes above the horizon. The sun beams have to travel a very long way thru the atmosphere. The longer distance increases the likelihood that visible light beams are scattered. The visible range of light reaches from ultra violet over blue, green, yellow, orange to red. Think of a prism or a rainbow. Since the atmospheric molecules scatter UV and blue light over and over again, all that reaches the eyes are the orange and red frequencies of light. Thus, at low sun zenith angle, everything seems to be in a light reddish-orange hue in the sub-Arctic.

#fashionover40 Elegant, warm winter look
Chocolate brown shearling with Chanel bag, vintage hat, lined leather gloves, Ray Ban sunglasses, booties (all own), and faux fur boot toppers c/o The Top of the Boots

The more sulfur aerosols are in the atmosphere, the deeper the orange and red become. Sulfate aerosols can build naturally in the air from gas-to-particle conversion, or they are emitted by volcanoes and/or during anthropogenic or natural combustion. Thus, pastel pinks mean relatively few, saturated orange and reds comparatively more aerosols.

#Alaska Alaska pink trees
Pink trees due to the low sun zenith angle in December and January in Interior Alaska

Think of these beautiful sunrises and sunsets above the ocean. Like over the ocean, you also have a lot of glare as the snow also reflects the light. This glare is the reasons why there is no problem to find nice sunglasses in Alaska. Sunglasses sell like hotcakes. You really need them year round.


In Fairbanks, the sun will be still 2o above the horizon at noon. There are about 3:42 hours of daylight on December 21. However, you only have to drive north, may be a seven hour drive, depending on the road conditions, to Wiseman (67°26′0″N 150°5′40″W) on December 21 to have no sunrise. In Barrow, the farthest north Alaska community, the polar night started already about ten days ago. They will not see the sun for two and a half month until late in January.

Winter proof OOTD

The outfit photos show what I wore on Thanksgiving – one of those pink days. It was pretty cold -4F (-20oC). My husband had surprised me with an invitation to brunch at a place on the river in town. For the commute I decided to wear my chocolate brown straight cut shearling coat, green gloves, my brown booties with boot toppers, and a hat that was a thrift-store find years ago. Underneath I wore my Lederhosentürle skirt that I had ordered in Germany this fall. I paired it with a green cashmere sweater, my plaid jacket, and a statement necklace.

#maturefashion Styling a Lederhosentuerle statement skirt
Burberry plaid blazer styled with Lederhosentürle skirt, green cashmere turtleneck sweater, brown tights, booties (all own) and boot toppers c/o The Top of the Boot

Focus Alaska is a weekly series where a post goes up every Monday.  You can find older posts about dumpster diving as an Alaska hobby, Alaska potlucks, and why Alaskans book their vacation in October as well as in the archive under the category Focus Alaska.

Do you love when the sky is pink or red? Do you adore sunsets and sunrises?

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Photos: G. Kramm

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