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Seeing the Strangest Light at the Bottom of the Earth

One-hundred years ago, five men found the South Pole. Here's what they may've seen.
December 16, 2011, 9:30pm

One hundred years ago, a five-man team of Norwegian explorers “trudged through fog, bitter cold and lacerating wind” to mark the bottom of the Earth. The expedition was led by Roald Amundsen, a guy best known for wintering the first successful sweep of the Northwest Passage. After that feat, Amundsen turned his eye toward the North Pole, then one of mankind’s last remaining unclaimed and uncharted geographic conquests. But after hearing that two teams had already staked that topmost claim, there was simply nothing left, as he wrote, “but to try and solve the last great problem—the South Pole.”


And so Amundsen rounded up some compatriots, ample provisions (so it was thought) and 52 sledge-pulling dogs. In early November, the team set off into oblivion on skis. Antarctica is a vast Hoth-like place boasting the world's the driest, coldest, windiest weather. At the bottom of the world all of the elements are relentless. Even the Sun, white and brilliant, looms high above from September until March.

It’s these sorts of conditions, combined with low humidity, an unchanging terrain, and close proximity to both magnetic and geographic poles that give way to all manners of strange, mind-warping optical phenomena. And we have pictures.

Read the rest at Motherboard.