“The Antarctic Sun” turns 25 | Polarjournal
The logo of The Antarctic Sun magazine has been changed only slightly over the past 25 years. (Photo: The Antarctic Sun)

The Antarctic Sun is an online newspaper with “news about the U.S. Antarctic Program, the ice, and the people.” The online publication has reported on NSF (National Science Foundation) research in the southern summer since 1997-1998. Its history dates back to the 1950s. From the austral summer of 1997-98 through 2006-07, The Antarctic Sun was produced at McMurdo Station between October and February. Since October 2007, it has been a year-round news website primarily about U.S. activities in Antarctica, managed out of the Denver area. Since 2016, the website has also featured podcasts primarily about operations at the US Antarctic stations.

Now, The Antarctic Sun is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Antarctic Program’s website for Antarctic news and information. Here’s an exciting report on the creation of the southernmost newspaper on earth.

The “McMurdo Sometimes” was the first Navy newspaper in McMurdo. This was followed by The Antarctica Sun Times, published during the International Geophysical Year. (Photo: Peter Rejcek)

The U.S. Navy provided logistical support to the U.S. Antarctic program during IGY (Intenational Geophysical Vear) and in subsequent decades. Marines published the McMurdo News, a short news report for McMurdo Station residents, during IGY. From 1960 to 1980, the newspaper appeared so irregularly that it was jokingly named “The McMurdo Sometimez”.

The name of the newspaper was changed to “The Antarctica Sun Times” in 1980, a reference to the fact that the sun always rises in the Antarctic summer. Issues published in the winter of 1990 were known as “The Antarctic Nite Times.” In 1995, the newsroom began using computers and digital cameras for production The newspaper was produced every few weeks during the southern summer in McMurdo. The reports chronicled life on the station, informed readers about Antarctic science, and provided news from the National Science Foundation, which manages the U.S. Antarctic program.

The first issue of “The Antarctic Sun” was limited exclusively to texts (left). Just one year later, the magazine was enriched with pictures, but only in black and white. This was accompanied by the logo (center), which has only been slightly changed to this day. Since 2008, there are only online versions (right). (Graphic: Heiner Kubny)

A new era begins

In 1997, the name of the newspaper was shortened to The Antarctic Sun and production was turned over to civilian contractors who took over the logistics of the program from the Navy. Alexander Colhoun was the first full-time journalist and editor. The newspaper was printed every 1-2 weeks during the Southern summer seasons from 1997 to 2007. The newspaper was then expanded into an online platform, broadening its audience to include anyone interested in Antarctic science. The website has been publishing news year-round since 2008 and has been a major source from Antarctica ever since.

These days, most of The Antarctic Sun’s coverage focuses on the science of the U.S. Antarctic program, from glaciology and marine biology to astrophysics and marine science. The content covers the activities not only of McMurdo but of all three U.S. research stations. Reports news and updates from stations, research vessels, and profiles of scientists and support personnel. As the website has evolved and readership has grown, multimedia storytelling has become a central theme of “The Antarctic Sun.” Videos give readers a first-hand look at Antarctic science and life on the stations. Infographics help illustrate scientific concepts.

In 2016, “The Antarctic Sun Podcast” was launched by then editor Mike Lucibella. (Photo: Antarctic Sun)

“The Antarctic Sun Podcast” give listeners a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to support science at the end of the world. The podcast’s cover everything from feeding the people at McMurdo Station to conducting search and rescue operations in one of the harshest environments on Earth.

The U.S. Antarctic Program is proud to celebrate this milestone, and we look forward to many more years of sharing Antarctic research with the world.

Website: The Antarctic Sun

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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