Antarctica at Night
Words and Photos by: Bhaskar Sarkar
I am an anaesthesiologist by profession, but a traveller at heart. For the last three years I have been travelling, balancing my job and my passion, finding time between my shifts and taking leaves to fulfill the needs of my wanderer soul. But it hasn’t been satiated with such limited intermittent excursions. So when a sudden unexpected opportunity came along, I decided to grab it with both hands and dive in headfirst.
Antarctica: The Final Frontier. The Edge of the World. The White Desert. The Dream of Every Traveller. The Indian Scientific Expedition to Antarctica was holding interviews to hire doctors for the team. This was it - the perfect chance to marry vocation with passion. I couldn’t let this opportunity go by.
Amidst the chilly barren landscape of this vast continent, there is an inherent peace – a peace that this hectic bustling modern lifestyle of ours denies us.
Amidst the chilly barren landscape of this vast continent, there is an inherent peace – a peace that this hectic bustling modern lifestyle of ours denies us. The pristine acres of snowy white lands, the serene eternal silence of the desolate desert, the neutral smell of a pollution-free air – there is a sudden attack of total sensory deprivation which in turn, ironically, produces a paradoxical heightened awareness. It opens up your clogged mind and frees your soul. It gives you time to find and understand your inner self. It unlocks the true you.
For all the astounding other-worldly beauty this place holds, it is essentially an unforgiving land. Hidden meter-wide crevasses, slippery fast ice, highly rugged landscape, the fickle weather which can at any time morph into a blizzard peaking at over 100 knots… It is one spellbinding yet daunting adventure.
Just when you think you have gawked upward long enough, a gentle flicker of the green Aurora dances into your field of view, and then slowly and steadily fills up the entire sky in a dazzling kaleidoscope of colour.
But it is the Antarctic night sky that mesmerizes me the most. The long winter months when we have 54 days of absolute darkness is pure bliss. With zero light and air pollution, the night sky sings to you. Billions of stars twinkle away as the crystal clear band of the Milky Way paves a path through the heavens – it is a vision to treasure. And just when you think you have gawked upward long enough, a gentle flicker of the green Aurora dances into your field of view, and then slowly and steadily fills up the entire sky in a dazzling kaleidoscope of colour. Curtains of purple, pink, green, and yellow shoot and wave all around the sky and you can only watch and stare in amazement.
These are some of the photographs that I have taken of the Antarctic night sky throughout this expedition. Temperatures are frigid, the wind is wild and the wind-chill has a nasty kick. For most of my photographic excursions, the wind-chill hovered between -40 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit, where frostbite is a definite outcome within 10 minutes. But my love for photography, adventure, and the night sky make it all worthwhile. Antarctica at night never ceases to amaze me.
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