11 January, 1999

Monday, January 11th, 1999, South Pole Station

Greetings to all from the very South!

What a morning! The sun is shining and the temperatures are Antarctic-summer like: minus 27C. We are having a 'heat wave' here! I was busy all morning getting used to the new computer system and then answering emails and questions. Thank you all for the wonderful greetings and questions!! It was just like coming home after a long trip.

Our team met again for lunch and we were planning a little birthday party during dinner for Bryan's birthday. After lunch we all heard the announcement via speakers that there is an incredible display of different halo's. We all rushed off the Ceremonial Pole to observe the rainbow like phenomena's such as a 'sun dog' around the sun. I never saw a 'sun dog' before nor a halo. Today there were, according to the experts, 25 different rainbow like structures to observe. Some of them formed circles and arches around the son. Sue was able to capture some on the digital camera. Halo around the sun form when there are a certain amount of ice crystals in the air at very low air temperatures. It was just incredible to see so many arches all at ones. The experts said that it was the best observation and the longest (55 min) for 20 years. It was just like a special show just for us. Everybody was out to take pictures including the team from the CBS TV station. I hope my slides will come out. Sue and I met the 'Halo Experts' in the computer room and they invited us the come and see some of their observations on video. We were thrilled.

During this 'show', two skiers from the Netherlands arrived. They finished their trip after 61 days and were, of course thrilled that they made it. I had to think about Amundsen and Scott and how far we have come. Not even 90 years have passed since they reached the Pole and here we were living at the Pole, welcoming the second 'sports team' to reach the pole. Before we arrived, a French team made it to the pole as well.

The afternoon was filled with computer work: Joel helped with the digital camera software and I could start viewing my photos I took during my trip to the Antarctic. Dinnertime was 'Happy Birthday' Bryan. We all had work to do after that. I continued answering email questions and talked to Bryan about our ozonesonde project and its preparation.

Yesterday's question was why do we have two poles? We actually observe three Poles: the Ceremonial, the Geographical and the Magnetic South Pole. The Earth spins around the geographic poles, which are at 90 degrees North and South latitude. The Earth's magnetic poles are not at that location. Compasses point to the North Magnetic Poles. The Antarctic continent is covered with ice and snow packed over thousand of years. This glacial ice moves every year as far as 10 meter, moving the actual post which marks the position of the Geographic South Pole. Every year on January 1st, the post that marks the Geographic South Pole is moved to its correct position. The Ceremonial Pole was established after the Antarctic Treaty was announced. Since the post's position of the Geographic Pole has to be corrected every year, the Ceremonial Pole was posted in honor of the Treaty. It has a ceremonial post in red and white with a glass ball attached. This Post is surrounded with the flags of the countries, which originally signed the Treaty

What did the Antarctic Treaty establish?

It is again past midnight. I will take a few more pictures on the way 'home'. Thanks for all your questions. Keep asking! Talk to you tomorrow.

The incredible halo display at th South Pole. (photo by Sue Bowman)

Halos and arches in the sky reflecting in the glass ball at the Ceremonial South Pole ( photo by Lisa Beal )

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