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Does Alaska really have six months of light and six months of darkness?

  • Author: AskBob
  • Updated: April 28, 2016
  • Published October 2, 2009

Q: Is it true that Alaska has six months of light and six months of darkness? —Alex

A: Alex, luckily those extremes only happen at the North Pole and the South Pole. As you move away from the poles and towards the equator, daylight swings become less pronounced.

That said, Alaska still gets fairly extreme. For example, Barrow—one of the northernmost towns in Alaska—has about two months of darkness in the winter, from about November 18 to January 22. But in the summer, the sun doesn't completely set for about 82 days, from roughly May 11 until July 31.

But Barrow is in the Far North. As you move south towards Fairbanks and Anchorage, the daylight swings moderate a bit. On the longest day of the year, for instance—the summer solstice—the sun rises in Anchorage at 4:20 a.m. and sets at 11:42 p.m., for 19-plus hours of sunlight. On the same day in Ketchikan almost 800 miles south of Anchorage, the sun rises at 4 a.m. and sets at 9:30 p.m.

To check out the sunrise and sunset times at various times of the year around Alaska, look at our Sunrise/Sunset Planner on On these charts you'll also see the amount of "civil twilight," or the amount of moderate light that happens before and after the sun rises or sets—a key factor that can add a precious hour or so when you're planning your outdoor activities here.