In May, the 15 humans living at the Concordia Research Station at the southern end of our planet bade farewell to the sun for the night -- a night that would last three months. For three months they lived by artificial lights, by moonlight and starlight, and, sometimes, by the lights of the Aurora Australis, but the sun stayed below the horizon. The temperature dipped below -80°C.
Over the past few weeks, sunlight slowly returned. Glaciologist Albane Barbero described the change:
Gradually, the mornings became lighter. We stopped needing our headtorches to go out to work or simply to see where we were going. Some colleagues put away their alarm clocks too because the light became strong enough to wake them. It was magical: you really felt as if the Sun was just below the horizon and that before long, we would see its beautiful light again. The glow gave us amazing skies. In early afternoon, as the glow dipped low on the horizon, we were treated to an array of intense colours: red, orange, purple, pink... before night fell bringing with it the Milky Way, or the Moon and its silver-plated landscape.
And then, this past Saturday, the moment finally came.
The researchers played in the snow and popped some champagne in celebration. The sun was back.