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Rosette Nebula NGC 2238

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A bit of the past for the New Year

Posted by Steve Hollenbach   12/31/2012 12:00AM

To the ends of the Earth!

On April 11, 1983 the sun set on McMurdo Station Antarctica at about 12:02 PM. It had never completely risen. Only about a fourth of its disk appeared. It lasted about five minutes and vanished; not to be seen again till late August. It slid almost sideways along the horizon before being lost from sight near Cape Royds well to the north of me.

The temperature was not bad; about ten below zero Fahrenheit. On colder days the air would feel thick like ice water in your nostrils. Winds were light and the sky was clear. The ocean was ragged with a freezing surf curling along a pebble and ice strewn beach. Sea Ice had not yet formed in this part of the sound. I walked down past Scott’s hut to the point and looked out into the distance.

Icebergs, the size of whole cities were floating in nearly black water. The dry air caused vapor to rise from the choppy sea. A thin sliver of a moon hugged the horizon due north of me; not far ahead of the sun. It looked for all intents like an artist’s conception of some mysterious planet in a science fiction movie. I enjoyed the moment there, as close as I could be, to alone.

Not swept away, just taking a hold of the experience. Inspired by the simplest of beauty, relieved by silence, warm in spite of cold, I reveled in that solitude and felt… time itself had purposely stopped and yielded one moment to me, even to the ends of the Earth.