Next week the sun will disappear below the horizon and stay away until August. Here's a glimpse of the run up to the longest night of my life:
More Stunning Aurora. Longer darker nights and lots of clear skies lately, have meant perfect aurora observing conditions. Lat night's show featured hyperactive green snakes shaking their way across the sky, shooting out spikes of yellow light, and some spooky bits where the aurora was making the tops of clouds glow green on the horizon.
I had to ski out to one of the experiments a couple of kilometres from the base, for a bit of routine maintenance at -37C. It's a weird sensations feeling your eyelashes and nosehairs start to freeze. It's quite tricky working at these temperatures too. You can't take your gloves off for long, and touching anything metal is a bad idea. Every now and then I had to do a load of star jumps to regain the feeling in my fingers and toes. It stings like crazy when they start to warm up, but it's a good feeling really, it tells you they're not frostbitten!
Sometimes we have to practice rescue scenarios, as we're our own emergency services down here. Last week we had a go at rescueing poor simon here from the tunnels, where he'd fallen and broken his pelvis (noone seemed that concerned about the fact that he had also lost his head, hands and feet). I was a first aider and stretcher handler (in yellow below). It was a tricky business manouvering the stretcher through all the nooks and crannies of the tunnels buried under about 20m of snow, but we got him out in record time. Here's the triumphant rescue team, and Simon, looking a bit worse for wear:
MeltTank, everyone's favourite way to start the day. At 9am every morning, a team of 3 or 4, bursting with energy and enthusiasm (especially on a Sunday), head out to shovel snow for half an hour. It can be a bit of a mission, but it certainly wakes you up. Nowadays, it's dark in the morning (and most of the rest of the time), so it's floddlit shovelling. Below: me, going for it (trying to make up for those extra 30 seconds in the shower!).