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2020-03-26 18:59:41 (UTC)

Prompt 064: The Sunset

64. If you could watch a sunset from anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why? Who would you watch it with, if you had the choice?

When thinking of this answer, a few different places come to mind. I had considered the International Space Station, but then I read closely and the prompt reads, "anywhere in the world," and technically the ISS ain't in it, it's rather above it or beyond it, so it doesn't quite count. Ruling that one out for some more terrestrial alternatives.

So, if I had the choice of where to watch a sunset, I'd likely go for a place I've never visited but have had on my bucket list for a few decades now: Antarctica. I would want to be stationed at a science base on that continent, and see a sunset. I want to know what the preparations are that go into such a prolonged period of darkness. I'd like to be there, to learn who the people are that can endure such a phenomenon.

Of course, my current access to sunlight is somewhat limited as well. It's a time of quarantine, and I live in the basement of a rowhouse/townhouse. The only opportunity for me to catch some direct sunlight is in the morning, sometime between the hours of 6:30am and 8:30am. Beyond that, I'm in my living space. At least until the weekend. Working from home requires I stay stationed at my desk the majority of the day. So the weekend is when I hope to stretch my legs a bit, beyond the walls of my apartment.

But back to Antarctica. Sundown lasts for quite some time, doesn't it? Some periods of time - today for instance: 26th March - sport a "twilight" for just a bit over eight hours long. There's no actual "night" right now in Antarctica, as the sun hasn't completely disappeared beyond the horizon. Well, in this case, at this particular time in Antarctica, there's so little difference between the sun at its height at 12:30pm versus it's lowest point, at... When?

I looked at today's sunrise and sunset information for Antarctica:
Zenith: 12:30pm
Sunset: 5:22pm
"Today, it does not get darker than Nautical Twilight."
The length of the day was 9 hours and 50 minutes longer than the Winter Solstice, and 14 hours and 9 minutes shorter than the Summer Solstice. So once per year there's an entire day of daylight, and once per year there's an entire day of night ("no-light") in Antarctica.

I like that phrase... "Beyond the horizon." How many songs have used that same phrase before, describing something of the imagination? Something like an unknown experience? I wonder if there's a song that describes the path of the sun through the sky. Well, you know, the sun stays put, it's just the twisting and the spinning of the Earth in its orbit that gives the impression that the sun is following a path. But it's really the Earth on a path, and a somewhat orderly, somewhat predictable path (at least according to science, and that's good enough for me).

So with whom would I want to spend that sundown before the 24 hours of night? I have literally no one in mind beyond fictional characters.

If I were to do this only once in my life, I'd want to stay awake as long as I possibly could. To see the sun set, and entire day of life in Antarctica without the sun, and then the sunrise that follows it, would be a kind of rite of passage for me. I've stayed awake longer than that at times in my life (I used to do these "write, rehearse, and perform a play within 24 hours" events back when I helped run a theatre company), but I think that symbolism or gravity would emerge through the experience. I might even already have an idea in mind about what sort of metaphysical journey I'd attempt that night.

I can't think of anyone in my life right now with whom I'd want to experience that sunset, night, and sunrise. I wonder if that's a terrible thing to admit.