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Okay, so admittedly I was going for a title that was a bit more catchy than the actual question, but not by much. On a technical level, the real question is "Feasibility and challenges of why a large stretch of land might have little to no sunlight", but with the idea of it being eternally night. Thus, moonlight is allowed, but so is limited sunlight to simulate something akin to dusk.

The basic premise is that the land is lorded over by vampires. Vampires in this setting aren't destroyed by sunlight, but they are weakened by it. Thus it isn't as if there can't be ANY sunlight, but it should be limited. Also, the land itself is a long strip of land that borders a body of water on one of the long sides and a mountain range on one end of the land where a castle resides.

The type of answer that I'm looking for is one that can explain how to achieve "eternal night" through various natural factors. Bonus points for answers that make beautifully clear night skies (not necessarily all of them) a possibility. Details, suggestions, and ideas below...


Referential factors...

  • Planet similar to Earth.
  • Weather vaguely similar to Earth's.
  • Landmass is roughly 5x20 Miles (8x32 km). Long/Wide/Diagonal, whatever works.
  • Needs to be livable.

Malleable factors...

  • The moon and/or moons.
  • Climate
  • Weather phenomena.
  • Location on planet in regards to rotation.
  • Rotation patterns of planet.
  • The amount of missing sunlight, the castle needs it most, the town needs it less.
  • Potential for volcanic activity in mountains?

Miscellaneous factors...

  • Consists of a large castle tucked away in a mountain range and a port town along a coast (sea/ocean, haven't decided yet).
  • People live there and make their living on both water and land. Trade is the biggest part of their economy.
  • Medieval technology level.
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    $\begingroup$ Do they need food? Because food needs sunlight to grow. Even if they eat blood from humans, humans need food which need sun to grow. $\endgroup$ – A. C. A. C. Jul 24 '17 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ This is completely non-scientific. You will need a magical source of heat, magical source of plant life, and semi-magical source of vitamin D for humans. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 24 '17 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @A.C.A.C. The vampires do not need food, as they use blood from the humans. The humans themselves DO need food however (naturally). Part of that is obtained from fishing and trade as mentioned above, but I suppose there is an additional question that I have now. Would they be completely reliant on trade for food, or is this something that they could be self-sufficient through? $\endgroup$ – JustSnilloc Jul 24 '17 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ @JustSnilloc, from scientific point of view, you are looking forward a tidally-locked planet. Your continent would be similar to Antarctica, only worse. $\endgroup$ – Alexander Jul 24 '17 at 18:33
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    $\begingroup$ Owls will deafen everyone with their incessant hooting. $\endgroup$ – user535733 Jul 24 '17 at 18:41
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If the planet in question were actually a moon rotating around a gas giant, you could potentially have one side eternally facing the sun, but still have tides due to the rotation around the gas giant. This would create ocean currents and theoretically prevent the problem of the dark side freezing and the light side burning to a crisp. So you have the majority of the moons population living on the light side and your vampire race living on the dark side. On the dark side, the 'day' would be partially lit by the reflection of the sun off of the gas giant and you would still get your beautifully clear night sky.

To deal with the problem of food, it is possible that the tides and currents bring nutrients and single celled organisms to the coasts of the lands on the dark side and a food chain exists on top of this as well as other bacteria and fungi.

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  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea, I think it has potential, but what if the moon and planet are similar in size? That would also dramatically decrease the size of the dark spot, yes? Of course it would no longer be a gas giant, but I'm not sure what sort of ramifications that might have. $\endgroup$ – JustSnilloc Jul 25 '17 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ In the scenario above, there's no dark spot, there's a dark side to the planet. The moon is "tidally locked" to the sun but rotates around the planet. The scenario you are describing is a binary, or double planet, where the planets rotate around each other similar to Pluto and Charon. Note, that though most planets tend to orbit their stars on a flat plane, moons and other satellites often have irregular orbits, like the rings around Uranus. You have a bit more flexibility if your planet is actually a moon. $\endgroup$ – wackozacko Jul 25 '17 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ You could have such a situation, but it would not be stable over geologically long periods of time. The moon would tend to become rotationally locked to the gas giant, rather than the sun. Depending on further details of the setting, that may or may not be a problem. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Jul 30 '17 at 0:48
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Three proposals:

  • Volcano activity. Smoke and dust are produced in high quantity locally, blocking the light and putting the area into darkness. Very unlikely for a stable setting, as volcanic activity will vary, wind and weather conditions as well, and habitability will be unlikely due to terrible conditions.
  • Chasm. A deep chasm of 8km+ deep. If located at a high enough latitude and roughly parallel to the equator, the bottom will never receive direct sunlight. Such setting is highly stable, but will not be pitch dark due to indirect light. Does not match the nearby ocean pretty well :)
  • Permanent eclipse. One moon covers a specific spot permanently, due to some rotation synchronization (very unlikely unless everything is tidally locked, which will give you a permanent night anyway).

Combos are possible. Chasm and volcano match well together from a geological point of view. Permanent eclipse can also have effect on the crust and trigger geological activity.

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  • $\begingroup$ I considered Volcanic Activity and Eclipses. Any idea on what sort of health effects the Volcano idea would have? Also, would it be possible for two or more celestial bodies to orbit one another in such a way that one spot on one of the celestial bodies is consistently (or mostly consistently) blocked from direct sunlight? $\endgroup$ – JustSnilloc Jul 25 '17 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JustSnilloc Regarding lava effect, I answered something related here : worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/32467/… . For the permanent eclipse, it is not possible if bodies are rotating on their axis, you will need some handwaving here. $\endgroup$ – Uriel Jul 25 '17 at 23:59
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    $\begingroup$ Check this thread about permanent eclipses : giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?428820-Permanent-eclipse $\endgroup$ – Uriel Jul 26 '17 at 0:04
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In a world where vampires and to some degree magic exist, then these can be considered natural factors.

The land of eternal night is caused by a magically created optical barrier floating above this territory. This is effectively a one-way mirror reflecting back most of the daylight during the, what we can only call, day. Effectively it will be no brighter than dusk, but the vampire territory will languish in permanent night.

It can be assumed that once it was created magically this mirror layer will remain there until the last vampire is gone. This will save on having to renew the magic to keep the mirror layer functioning.

There is no need to assume that this mirror has a solid or particulate surface, it is merely a surface where light is reflected by the optical properties of the space constituting the layer itself.

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  • $\begingroup$ The problem is that I'm looking for something at least vaguely possible with natural phenomena. Yes, magic does exist, but if I were going to simply choose the option of "A wizard did it!", then I wouldn't bother asking. $\endgroup$ – JustSnilloc Jul 25 '17 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @JustSnilloc SSSHH! Don't tell the wizards that, they might get annoyed! In case natural phenomena is harder than it looks. This answer aimed at minimal magic to create a quasi-natural phenomenon. I had considered a couple of purely natural possibilities, but they turned out to be duds. Even so, I hope you get the answer you want. I'll try & give it so more thought, there still might be a way to achieve the effect satisfactorily. $\endgroup$ – a4android Jul 26 '17 at 7:51
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Permanent thunderstorm.

I wondered if there were such a place. Lake Maracaibo is pretty close.

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20150810-the-most-electric-place-on-earth

On a good night, one lake in Venezuela hosts thousands of lightning strikes every hour. The phenomenon is known variously as the Beacon of Maracaibo, Catatumbo lightning or – cue dramatic roll of thunder - the “everlasting storm”. That last one might be a slight exaggeration but where the Catatumbo River meets Lake Maracaibo there is an average of 260 storm days per year. enter image description here

My read from BBC and Wikipedia is that wet winds come in off the ocean, come across the lake and associated swamps and get wetter, then hit the mountains and are forced upwards. All that water condenses into clouds. Wet ascending air turning into clouds happens in many other places; it is apparently still unclear why in this particular region it also so regularly produces thunderstorms. Supposedly the lightning is so frequent and predictable that it is used as a sort of lighthouse by ships at sea.

Any real thing can be exaggerated in a fiction. So: your marshy vampireland sandwiched between mountains and sea has thunderstorms all day, (almost) every day. Lighting is good for drama, but heavy low cloud cover is not too exotic and it can definitely make it dark. Not as dark as night: plants can still grow.

My read of Lake Maracaibo is that the storms come in the evening. It would be nice for your land to have storms come near sunup. That way the children of the night can see the moon and make their beautiful music.

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There's a really simple solution here that I'm surprised nobody has touched on.

You simply have it in really northern or southern latitudes, and have the planet have a minimal axial tilt. Orient the mountains so that they're towards the equator, and you have even more of a barrier to sunlight.

Essentially, you'd be living in Alaska, Northern Canada, or Northern Russia. Not the most pleasant place to live, but it's possible. The thing with those places though, is in one season, they're essentially all night, all the time. And in another, they're all day all the time. With a minimal axial tilt, you'd have to go more north to get the all-night effect, but there would be significantly less variance. If you make the world, in general, a bit warmer then you can deal with living in the land of permanent ice and snow.

The issue that comes up is food, but with sunlight on the other side of the mountains, you could easily grow it there. Plus, depending on time period, shipping it in is an option. It won't be as fresh, of course, but food is food.

How they make their money is also why they live there. I'd go as far as to say they could even farm an uncommon flora or fauna that thrives in the dark conditions. They found this place that's eternally dark and while most people turn away and say "NO!" someone saw dollar signs.

(As an aside, don't forget about the wonderful issues that crop up with people living in dark areas for extended periods. Might want to mention constant migration - New people in looking for money, others leaving because it's super depressing)

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    $\begingroup$ This is my favorite answer, without going to a whole tidally-locked world. You don't necessarily even need to ship in food from elsewhere, or grow it on the other side of the mountains; some arctic native peoples on Earth manage to survive just fine on a nearly-completely carnivorous diet, so people here could just as easily live off of fish and migratory land animals that ate plants elsewhere before being caught in their country. No need to trade for or grow food in the light- the food comes to you. $\endgroup$ – Logan R. Kearsley Jul 30 '17 at 0:52
  • $\begingroup$ You'd need a LOT of animals to support any larger settlement. Not impossible, but farming's a little easier a lot of times. $\endgroup$ – Andon Jul 30 '17 at 1:06
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You could have a nuclear-winter-like scenario where some arbitrarily large amount of dust was blasted into the atmosphere, concealing the sky and therefore the sun. As for challenges, though, it would be implausible for there to be humans, due to the impossibility of agriculture. Trade would be necessary, but if this is, indeed, a planet-wide phenomenon, there would be no viable trading partners.

Or, if you're already using vampires, you could introduce some sort of magical effect making it eternally dusk.

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  • $\begingroup$ The idea would be that it's mostly this one area (not necessarily excluding other potential places) on the globe that is without sunlight. $\endgroup$ – JustSnilloc Jul 24 '17 at 18:33
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My favorite answer is Andon's- put them near the poles on a world with very little tilt.

But my runner up would be to just put them near the terminator on a synchronously-rotating (tidally locked) world. Or close to it, anyway. If the planet rotates such that it experiences one solar day every, say, 5000 years, you'll still get many centuries of nighttime and twilight at any given point.

If the world's orbit isn't perfectly circular and/or its axis of rotation isn't perfectly perpendicular to its orbit, libration and nutation will still cause the sun to move around a little bit in the sky (theses effects can be observed on our own moon if you watch it carefully enough over the course of a month).

This sort of world would have pretty stable weather patterns. If you want a near-continuous warm wind, put it near the equator (where warm air from the day side would flow to the night side). If you want a near-continuous cold wind, put it near one of the poles (where cold air flows from the night side back to the day side). If you want neither, put it somewhere in the mid latitudes. Just exactly how warm or cold the climate is can be adjusted by fiddling with the size of the sun and/or the size of the planet's orbit. Exactly how much or how little sunlight the place gets (averaging over the effects of libation & nutation) can be adjusted by moving it a little more towards the day side, or a little more towards the night side. Since the sun is always in same general area of the sky, and you want this to be a mountainous coastal area, just put the castle in the shadow of a mountain to ensure it gets the least light. The town can get more light while still being in view of the castle if the coastline in oriented at angle to the line of the terminator, such that the town is behind the mountain, but extends outside its shadow.

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