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World map showing the Antarctic Circle in red.
Map of the Antarctic with the Antarctic Circle in blue.

The Antarctic Circle is one of the five major circles (or parallels) of latitude that mark maps of the Earth.

For Epoch 2010, it is the parallel of latitude that runs 66º 33′ 43″ (or 66.5619°) south of the Equator. [1]

The area south of the Antarctic Circle is known as the Antarctic, and the zone immediately to the north is called the Southern Temperate Zone. The equivalent line of latitude in the northern hemisphere is the Arctic Circle.

Every place south of the Antarctic Circle experiences a period of twenty-four hours' continuous daylight at least once per year, and a period of twenty-four hours' continuous night time at least once per year. That is to say, there is at least one whole day during which the sun does not set, and at least one whole day during which the sun does not rise. On the Antarctic Circle these events occur, in principle, exactly once per year, at the December solstice and the June solstice respectively. This happens because the Earth's axis is tilted, by approximately 23.5 degrees, relative to ecliptic (the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun). At the June solstice the southern hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun to its maximum extent, and the region of permanent darkness reaches its northern limit; at the December solstice the southern hemisphere is tilted towards the Sun to its maximum extent, and the region of permanent sunlight reaches its northern limit.

In practice several other factors affect the appearance of continuous day or night, the most important being atmospheric refraction, the altitude of the observer above sea level, mirages, and the fact that the sun is a sphere rather than a point. Mirages on the Antarctic continent tend to be even more spectacular than in Arctic regions, creating, for example, a series of apparent sunsets and sunrises while in reality the sun remains under the horizon.

Due to gradual changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis, the Antarctic Circle is slowly moving. See circles of latitude.

Contents

Geography and demographics

The continent of Antarctica forms a land mass covering much of the area within the Antarctic Circle. There is no permanent human population on Earth south of the Antarctic Circle. There are, however, several Antarctic research centers from various nations that are inhabited by teams of scientists that rotate on a seasonal basis. In previous centuries, some semi-permanent whaling stations were established on the continent and some of the whalers would live there for a year or more. At least three children have been born in Antarctica, albeit in stations north of the Antarctic Circle. See Demographics of Antarctica.
Starting at the Prime Meridian and heading eastwards, the Antarctic Circle passes through:

Co-ordinates Country, territory or sea Notes
66°34′S 0°0′E / 66.567°S 0°E / -66.567; 0 (Prime Meridian) Southern Ocean North of Queen Maud Land and Enderby Land
66°34′S 50°32′E / 66.567°S 50.533°E / -66.567; 50.533 (Antarctica) Antarctica - Enderby Land Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 57°19′E / 66.567°S 57.317°E / -66.567; 57.317 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean North of the Amery Ice Shelf
66°34′S 82°6′E / 66.567°S 82.1°E / -66.567; 82.1 (Antarctica) Antarctica Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 89°14′E / 66.567°S 89.233°E / -66.567; 89.233 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean
66°34′S 91°29′E / 66.567°S 91.483°E / -66.567; 91.483 (Antarctica) Antarctica Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 92°21′E / 66.567°S 92.35°E / -66.567; 92.35 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean
66°34′S 93°52′E / 66.567°S 93.867°E / -66.567; 93.867 (Antarctica) Antarctica Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 107°45′E / 66.567°S 107.75°E / -66.567; 107.75 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean Vincennes Bay
66°34′S 110°12′E / 66.567°S 110.2°E / -66.567; 110.2 (Antarctica) Antarctica - Wilkes Land Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 116°35′E / 66.567°S 116.583°E / -66.567; 116.583 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean
66°34′S 121°31′E / 66.567°S 121.517°E / -66.567; 121.517 (Antarctica) Antarctica - Wilkes Land Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 127°9′E / 66.567°S 127.15°E / -66.567; 127.15 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean
66°34′S 129°38′E / 66.567°S 129.633°E / -66.567; 129.633 (Antarctica) Antarctica - Wilkes Land Territory claimed by  Australia
66°34′S 136°0′E / 66.567°S 136°E / -66.567; 136 (Antarctica) Antarctica - Adélie Land Territory claimed by  France
66°34′S 138°56′E / 66.567°S 138.933°E / -66.567; 138.933 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean
66°34′S 162°44′E / 66.567°S 162.733°E / -66.567; 162.733 Balleny Islands - Row Island Territory claimed by  New Zealand
66°34′S 162°45′E / 66.567°S 162.75°E / -66.567; 162.75 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean Passing just north of Adelaide Island (claimed by  Argentina,  Chile and  United Kingdom)
66°34′S 65°44′W / 66.567°S 65.733°W / -66.567; -65.733 (Antarctica) Antarctica - Antarctic Peninsula - Graham Land and Larsen Ice Shelf Territory claimed by  Argentina,  Chile and  United Kingdom
66°34′S 60°21′W / 66.567°S 60.35°W / -66.567; -60.35 (Southern Ocean) Southern Ocean Passing through the Weddell Sea and into an unnamed part of the ocean

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Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

English

Proper noun

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Antarctic Circle

  1. (geography) The line which marks approximately the northernmost place in the Southern Hemisphere where the sun does not set on the summer solstice and does not rise on the winter solstice.

Translations


Simple English


The Antarctic Circle is one of the five major circles of latitude that mark maps of the Earth. It is the parallel of latitude at 66° 33′ 39″ south of the Equator, crossing mostly the Southern Ocean.

In the Antarctic Circle, all places have twenty-four hours of daylight on the Summer Solstice in December. In June on the Winter Solstice all places have twenty-four hours of night. There is a minimum of one whole day that the sun does not set and one whole day that the sun does not rise.

The area south of this circle is named the Antarctic, and the zone to the north is the Southern Temperate Zone.

The continent of Antarctica is a land mass that is most of the area within the Antarctic Circle. The South Pole is in the center of the Antarctic Circle.

There is no permanent population of persons south of the Antarctic Circle. There are research centers from some nations on Antarctica. Teams of scientists live in the research centers for part of the year. In past centuries some whaling stations were set up on Antarctica and some of the whalers would live there for a year or more. At least three children have been born in Antarctica. They would be citizens of Antarctica if there were a nation on the continent.

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