Millennium anxiety: will the sun rise, and where?

I remember first hearing the phrase “millennium anxiety” way back in 1989, from a man who made his money by predicting the future for business. “Clever,” I thought, never dreaming of the wild west show that the turn of this century would become. Six months before the big day, there is already a dispute about the “first sunrise”.

The battle is raging about who gets to see the first sunrise of the new age. According to news reports, Mount Hakepa on New Zealand’s Pitt Island, (500 miles southeast of the mainland) is the place to be for the dawn of the year 2000. The battle, of course, involves money and television broadcast rights, and is between the New Zealand government and international TV networks.

Scientists at London’s Greenwich time centre have confirmed that “first sunlight” will reach Mount Hakepa (pop. 55) at exactly 3:59 a.m. local time, or 11:59 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. CNN is said to be offering up to $270,000 for the broadcast rights of this amazing event, close to $200,000 more than what the New Zealand government is willing to shell out. A local farmer, one Ken Lanauze, has already dismissed the government’s offer as a bad deal.

It could be the deaof the century, even the past millennium, no matter what payment he gets. Five dollars should be enough, especially when you consider that this “first light” only works for the eastern time zone. Or does it? As far as I can figure, it will be dark at the dawn of the new millennium, just like it is every New Year’s Eve.