Dear Tom, 

Where does the sun rise and set in Alaska at the summer solstice? 

Eric Pyeritz


Dear Eric,

The summer solstice marks the northernmost position reached by the sun and the beginning of astronomical summer.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is directly overhead at 23.5 degrees north latitude (the Tropic of Cancer) on the summer solstice. Its relevance to Alaska is that above the Arctic Circle, 66.5 degrees north latitude (23.5 degrees from the North Pole), the sun never sets at summer solstice, generating 24 hours of daylight.


The area experiencing 24-hour sun has only two population centers, Barrow and Kotzebue, north of the Arctic Circle. Despite perpetual daylight, daily high and low temperatures often vary 20 degrees due to the difference in sun angle between noon and midnight.