Colors in Alaska skies

Alaska Range ~ Dusk to Dawn

Whether you are south or north of the central Alaska Range, and depending on the season, light and shadow take on an otherworldly cast. Atmospheric conditions, the moon, and long, low-angle sun allow for a variety of blending around the great peaks from dusk to dawn.

The top images show the north face of Denali, from inside Denali National Park and Preserve, in the transition of moonrise in the southeast to moonset in the southwest. In Alaska's summer season, the moon and the sun switch places. The moon arcs low in the southern skies. During the twenty-or-more hours of sunlight, the sun arcs almost a full circle, rising in the northest and setting in the northwest.

Second row: The left image shows windless, hazy conditions from fires in Russia with the northwestern sunset causing a silhouette and stark contrast of the massive Range. At the right, a lunar eclipse hangs in the west at moonset, and a blush of intense winter alpenglow blankets the southern faces of the Range as light bends in the atmosphere before a February sunrise.

Third row: The left image shows the great summits still struck by autumn's sunlight while the land is drawn into deeper shadow. At the right, powerful and vivid auroral curtains cover a winter's night illuminating the snow cover across the Range with color and light.

Fourth row: A spring sunset paints high cirrus clouds watermelon-pink long after it sets. The gathering twilight back-lights the summit ridgeline of the Range.

Lastly: a small gap in the cloud layer to the southeast allows the summits of Denali and Mt. Hunter to be struck briefly by winter's first light.

Spectacular wonders like these have occurred across Alaska and the entire world since time immemorial. In our short lifetime, it's good to remind ourselves that no matter where we are, to experience such fleeting moments is a gift.

All images © Dave Parkhurst