Last week I had the chance to sit down with cosmologist Keith Vanderlinde, a CIFAR Junior Fellow at McGill, who spent eleven months straight living at the South Pole in Antartica. During the winter temperatures dip below -70 C and their is continual darkness for nearly six months straight. It gets so cold during the winter that planes cannot fly in–once the last plane takes off you are stranded there until the following sumer.
While in Antartica, Keith was in charge of keeping the South Pole Telescope running. Every day he had to walk 1 km to and from the telescope, often in white blizzard conditions. Keith took his camera with him and captured a series of incredible photos of the night sky and life in Antartica.
There’s a tradition here at pole dating back decades, that whenever the temperature outside falls below -100F, the 300 club convenes & initiates new members. You gain entry into the club by first sitting in the sauna with the temperature turned up to 200F, then running outside (a 300F temperature differential, hence the name) and around the pole, all wearing nothing but boots and a smile.
Only once – in the half century for which we have records – has the temperature failed to hit -100F over the course of a winter. It’s expected that the 300 club convenes at least once each winter, more likely twice or three times. Well, with the sun now up and temperatures already rising into summer, our low for the year is sitting at -99.9F, and there’s no way that would count. Seriously.