The Return of the Sun

by Allen Clayton

No-one is in Winter residence at Halley VI these days to witness that memorable event, the Return of the Sun, returning to the skies on its due date of the 9th. of August, (although in 1969 it was just visible two days earlier due to refraction)! In the 'old days', we would carefully compute, using almanac and log tables, the precise time when we could expect to see the glimmer of the sun's upper limb appearing over the horizon. The druidic-like ceremony of bringing out the Campbell-Stokes sunshine recorder from its three months' storage and raise a brand-new Union Jack on the flagpole may have looked something like this very amateur attempt at an imaginative, pictorial composition of what the occasion might have looked like half a century ago when we were all troglodytes at Halley Bay.
"Here comes the sun ..." (Beatles) [8 Aug 2020]
Return of the Sun

Chris Gostick says:

Well remembered, Allen. Yes, putting the flag back up again really did feel like the start of a New Year. Sad to think of Halley VI being so empty - and likely to get only the shortest of maintenance visits this coming summer according to the latest BAS news. How things have changed!
Trust all is well with one and all, despite the pandemic.
With every good wish.
Ceeje [9 Aug 2020]

Malcolm Guyatt:

A reminder of how we were; thanks.
I don’t recall the calcs and sunshine recorder part of the significant date - somebody else did that (you and the Met men I suppose)? I do recall that the flag-pole had been in the workshop - some welding and a lick of paint - and had to be re-erected on the ‘main shaft coaming’.
I think(?) we did that ‘on the day’ (‘just in time’ might have been invented at Halley??) - I do recall that it was quite cold (around minus 50??) and we needed a few extra ‘hands’ to get it set up - so Keith Chapel was rousted out (on the quick). I think his prep might have been compromised ‘cos he appeared to succumb to the ‘cold’ and managed to get his foot trapped by a bracket at the bottom of the mast and the main shaft wood-work (luckily it punctured only his Mukluk and not his foot!).
Once released he disappeared inside and we set up the pole - then (or the next day??) we proceeded to carry on welcoming the sun back. It was a psychologically significant moment - one can understand the Druids a bit I guess??
Thanks for the reminder.
Hope all are well and managing Covid 19 as well as possible??
Malc G. [9 Aug 2020]

Ian Smith:

Thanks very much for the reminder Allen.
It was indeed a memorable event, and I'm sure I have the photos to prove it (somewhere !). I congratulate you on the image, I'm sure I can recognise Grot, Graunch and Mike T very clearly, but I don't remember the communist era tannoy speakers.
Best wishes to everyone, as we look forward to brighter days
Fin [9 Aug 2020]

Hwfa Jones:

Great painting - I particularly like the Huskies in the middle.
Here's one of the 1970's flags - we used to bin them [11 Aug 2020]
Halley flag 1970

Chris Sykes:

Great memories??. I remember people climbing onto the roof of tractors or other high places in order to be first to see the sun. Then off to raise the flag. But first to lower the winter longjohns that had flown from the mast all winter. I had made a circle of welding rod to fit the longjohn waist band then another across the diameter to attach the halyards. Having flown bravely all winter like a two legged airfield wind sock it had stretched. Now from a narrow waist the hips spread to a very feminine shape and with long slender legs they looked rather attractive. They reminded me of something but I’d forgotten what.
Chris (Sideways) Sykes. [11 Aug 2020]

Denis Wilkins:

Great reminder, Allen. In my diary on the day: "Watched film ‘Tread Softly Stranger’. It was rubbish."
I also noted that xxxxx had a chest X-ray. Possibly because both of us were bored.
Best wishes to everyone
Denis [11 Aug 2020]

Roger Tiffin:

1969 - I remember the sunshine recorder ceremony - I think it was DEF who carried it out and put it in place.
I have a link in my diary back to May 1st:
" Last day of the sun but missed it as in bed (on nights). Night:- Disaster!! Set the Met Office on fire at 4 in the morning by knocking out my pipe in the gash bin. Luckily I was raised from nightly stupor by smoke and flames - emptied the cats’ litter tray al l over it - the mixture of smells was pungent to say the least. Didn’t use fire extinguisher as didn’t fancy clearing up the mess. Had to break off halfway through the fire fighting as Inga trying to eat Dillon". (I’d opened the door to the shaft (and pup tunnel) to try and reduce the smoke.
Happy days!
Tiff [11 Aug 2020]

Chris Gostick:

The sun is rising at Halley Bay, and right on cue here is the James Clark Ross arriving back in Harwich to load for her next voyage south after spending the last month or so on a refit in Frederikshavn, Denmark, looking splendid in the afternoon sunshine after a full repaint. Great sight!
All good wishes to one and all
Ceeje [12 Aug 2020]
JCR - Harwich 12-08-20


Dear All 69 winterers,
I am responding to Allen (flowerpot)’s nostalgic email. This time from a met man’s perspective.
FYI Today the maximum temperature in East Berkshire is a balmy PLUS 34.4c.
Rewind 51 years.... to an ice-bound existence at WMO No 89022 Halley Station. 75deg35S. 26deg30W.
You may, (or probably not) be interested in the following observations around "Here comes the SUN"
where MINUS 34c was commonplace.
AUGUST 1969 89022 37M. Amsl approx. (Temperatures in Deg. C)
Date Max. Min. Average.
08 -34.4 -49.2 -41.8
09 -31.0 -43.8 -37.4
10 -33.0 -46.9 -40.1
11 -33.6 -50.2 -43.3 (Coldest Day of the year)
Once a met man always a met man, just a bit greyer now
I do remember the Fire in the Met office but not the ceremonial placing of the Campbell-Stokes recorder. Thanks for the artwork, glad to see my signpost. According to Jim Chalmers probably the only item to be moved from Halley II to each subsequent version and now at Halley VI. I hope the summer 2020 party can still find it! A photo would be good.
Now where is the ice for my G + T?
Bye for now
Dave (def )French [12 Aug 2020]

Bob Wells:

Thanks for the memories Def. The mentions of Campbell-Stokes reminded me of a framed display of burnt sunshine recorder cards showing a very long (5-6 days?) period of continuous sunshine. I strongly suspect that this must have been at Halley Bay, but, if so, I can't spot the frame on the wall in my blurred photos of the pin-ups on the met office or in smoke-filled lounge. I haven't had any joy trying to trace this with Google. Can anybody help?
Does Halley hold the record for the longest period of continuous recorded sunshine? Did it ever? Have I gone doolalley? (No need to answer that one!).
Bob [14 Aug 2020]

Dave French:

Re sunshine trace at Halley. Seem to remember there was about 120 hours of continuous sunshine in early Jan. 1968 at Halley I. Somewhere I have met records so will hunt through archive on my hard drive. I visited Cambridge in 2011 to collect and photograph the met official records. Will contact you again.
I suppose anywhere above 70 degrees lat. Between the three summer months given cloudless sky could achieve this figure. I expect Amunsden-Scott will have this record.
def [14 Aug 2020]

14 August 2020

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