Online and text rumors claiming that the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours on October 17, 2010 in some parts of the world and leave the United States in darkness for 36 hours may partially hold true, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said on Wednesday.
The report spreading through e-mails and text messages noted that this “coming October 17, 2010, the sun will rise continuously for 36 hours (1.5 days). During this time, the American countries will be dark for 1.5 days. It will convert three days into two big days. It will happen once in 2,400 yrs.”
Engr. Dario dela Cruz, officer-in-charge of the Pagasa’s space sciences and astronomy section, explained that during September, countries in the Southern Hemisphere start to experience longer days, while those in the Northern Hemisphere experience longer nights.
Every year, equal lengths of day and night happen twice a year during the vernal and autumnal equinox, on March and September, respectively.
“After we experience the equinox during September, countries located in the Southern Hemisphere begin to observe longer days, as against those in Northern Hemisphere that observe longer nights, which include the northernmost part of the United States,” Dela Cruz said.
“Starting September 24, there is a gradual decrease in the number of hours of nighttime as we go below the latitude. Countries located above 66.5 degrees are those that only experience a whole day of darkness,” he added.
However, Dela Cruz did not confirm whether the 36 hours of darkness in the United States will happen exactly on October 17.
Dela Cruz pointed out that the tilting of the Earth’s axis towards or away from the sun result in longer days and shorter nights or shorter days and longer nights in most areas in the Earth.
He cited that in the North Pole, six months of darkness is usual during this period, while the South Pole live through six months of daytime.
During the summer solstice, countries located in the Northern Hemisphere, including the Philippines, experience the longest day and shortest night of the year, which usually occurs on June 21 or June 22.
This is in contrary to the winter solstice, which refers to the shortest day and longest night, which occurs on December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern Hemisphere.
The report also noted that the rare phenomenon is said to be occurring every 2,400 years.
But Dela Cruz said he is not aware of any scientific study pertaining to the so-called rare phenomenon occurring in 2,400 years.