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Halley Diary — July 2012

July was one of the harder months of the Winter. The excitement of mid-Winter had passed and sun-up in August seemed like a long way off. It was also the coldest month we had had with temperatures finally breaching the −50°C mark. The morning of the 30th July I awoke at 8am to find the temperature had plummeted overnight and had just broken −50°C. There is an apparently long standing tradition at Halley of running stark naked around the base when the temperature falls below this magic point. Therefore, at 08:10am on 30th July 2012 I became the first person to run round Halley VI at −50°C wearing nought but a pair of trainers. I was swiftly followed by Sam and then Cas, Ant, Gareth, Sanna and John. Just to clarify, the route was: down the C module stairs, out along past the bedroom modules, around the end of the station, back down the other side, past the melt tanks, round the other end of the station by the second science module, along the front of the station and back up the stairs.

Temperature at Halley falling below -50C (Photo: Olli Bonner)
Temperature at Halley falling below -50C (Photo: Olli Bonner)

Another pertinent moment in July was my birthday on the 16th. As luck would have it, the best aurora of Winter happened to fall on the evening of the 15th. Sam, Ant, Cas and I all readied our P-Bags before heading out onto Halley Hill (the wind tail mound) to camp out for the night. The aurora was utterly stunning. It was a full blown aurora which danced across the sky and lit up the ice with its colours of red and green. The aurora was at its peak for over an hour and lasted through the night so that even as Rob was walking to the garage at 8am the following day, it was still visible.

Sleeping under the aurora (Photo: Sam Burrell)
Sleeping under the aurora (Photo: Sam Burrell)

In celebration of my birthday, Rob and I organised a party in the garage. Nigel kitted it out with an excellent sound system and I put the old projector from Halley V on the balcony shining onto the garage doors with audio visualisations. Rob then topped it all off with rotating orange beacons and a couple of strobes — Club Nido was ready for business once again.

Club Nido at Halley VI (Photo: David Holmes)
Club Nido at Halley VI (Photo: David Holmes)

The continued darkness during much of the daytime meant more wonderful skies. The midday Milky Ways of late June gave way to stunning dawns and dusks (with the sun not yet rising). These periods at Halley are without a doubt the most visually striking.

Panorama of SuperDARN Radar with the moon (Photo: Olli Bonner)
Panorama of SuperDARN Radar with the moon (Photo: Olli Bonner)
Dusk over Halley VI (Photo: Olli Bonner)
Dusk over Halley VI (Photo: Olli Bonner)

Oliver Bonner
Wintering Radar Engineer