Because of the way the Earth is positioned relative to the sun, most of the sunlight, and therefore most of the heat fall around the planet’s beltline, the so-called tropical regions around the equator. Out by the the poles there is hardly any sunlight at all, and the ground is in permafrost. The North Pole is cold enough, but South Pole is one of the most frigid places on the planet. It sits on top of a continent of ice, some mile and a half above seal leve, and unlike the North Pole has no ocean near it to store up the heat.
On this day, June 23, in 1982 the lowest temperature ever was recorded at the South Pole: -117 degrees Fahrenheit at the at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.
If you are thinking about taking a trip to the station to experience the cold for yourself, NASA’s website helpfully lays out a few things to expect. The station’s habitable area is under a two-story high geodesic dome and can house about 27 in the the winter. Everything from crew quarters to recreation to meeting areas is under the dome. There is a small library, a weight-lifting room, and even a general store from which “Video tapes may be borrowed … for use on the VCRs on station.” The only bad news: the average yearly temperature outside is a balmy – 50F.