University of Wisconsin-Madison

Week 21 at the Pole

NSF/I. Rees
NSF/I. Rees

Some very bright auroras have been unfolding in the sky above the South Pole lately. But that doesn’t mean the only way to see an aurora is by looking upward. Here’s an aurora reflected in the metallic sphere atop the marker at the ceremonial South Pole. The ceremonial South Pole is not the same as the geographic South Pole—it’s a place for photo ops, with a special marker surrounded by flags of the countries belonging to the Antarctic Treaty. The original ceremonial South Pole marker, a tall bamboo pole with a glass ball on top, was erected on top of a garage roof, even before the Antarctic Treaty was passed in 1961. Not around quite as long but originating in 1983, the game of Jenga can produce tall structures like the Pole markers (or even taller). And … it looks like it’s just as much fun to play at the South Pole.

NSF/I. Rees
NSF/I. Rees