|While there was a lot of speculation about
which country would be the first to see the sunrise on the new millennium, most people
still had the date wrong.
The Gregorian calendar starts with the year 1AD, so 2000
years passed as the clock ticked into 2001.
The standard by which all World Time is set was agreed at
the 1884 International Convention in Washington DC, with Greenwich, England established as
the Prime Meridian (Zero Longitude).
The third millennium officially started on 1st January
2001, at Greenwich -- Year 2000 was another good excuse for a party, and canny tour
operators cashed in twice.
As the custodians of what astrologers call Universal Time
(UT), Britain spent more on its millennium celebrations than the rest of the world put
Sunrise on January 1st:
At midnight on December 31st in Greenwich, the Sun is rising in the Indian Ocean. Anyone
along a line that runs through the Nicobar Islands would experience the first sunrise of
the new millennium at 00 hours UT, 2001.
While London has it's place in time assured, other
countries stretched the international date line in order to be the first to see in the new
millennium; on local time.
The International Date Line:
On Jan 1, 1995 The Republic of Kiribati, formerly
the Gilbert Islands, moved the International Date Line to include its entire territory to
the western side of it and prevent the country from remaining in two different days. As a
result, the line has a bulge further east than Honolulu.
Because of this eastern bulge in the International Date
Line, Kiribati claimed that Caroline Island would be the first point of land to see in the
Unfortunately the Sun doesn't rise here before it does in
the Antarctic, much further south.
Caroline Island is actually an atoll of 22 small islets
protected by a very shallow reef and is about as hard to get to as the Antatartic; you
would probably need to go in by seaplane.
First inhabited place to see the Jan 1st sunrise
Christmas Island is the most south-easterly of the inhabited islands in Kiribati, but the
sun rises here later than it does at Pitt Island; in New Zealand's Chatham Islands.
The sun's first rays of a new year strike Mt. Hakepa on
Pitt Island, 850km from New Zealands mainland.
Mt Hakepa (213 metres) is located at Longitude W 176.10, Latitude S 44.16.
New Zealands East Coast then gets first light at Mt.
Hikurangi and a few minutes later Gisborne, on New Zealand's North Island, will earn the
status as first city to see the dawn of the new millennium.
The Last Sunset:
If you thought you'd caught the first sunrise of the New Millennium at Caroline Island,
crassly renamed Millennium Island, you could have flown 1500 miles to Samoa and see the
last sunset of the old Millennium, a little over 14 hours later.
If you really wanted to be the first to see the sun in the
new millennium, then you would have needed to wrap up warm and head for Antarctica in
December 2000 -- in January the sun is continuously above the horizon across most of
Antarctica as it is today reflects the on going clash of continent with a conquering
introduced species - human beings. What matters now is to ensure a sound future for the
Antarctic wilderness, so that the heart of Antarctica - the intrinsic values that make it
special - remain unchanged, forever -- OneWorld Magazine.
This Internet newsletter provides students and teachers around the world with information
on Antarctica, the scientific research taking place there, and fun facts about life at the
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
This page provides a way for you to obtain a table of the times of sunrise/sunset,
moonrise/moonset, or the beginning and end of twilight, for one year.
The authority on timekeeping.
The Year 2000
Travel Notes Live Broadcast from around the world as the magic number clicked over in 24