måndag 28 november 2011

Red and Green Sky

The polar darkness is far from being dark!

Tonight a CME (coronal mass ejection) from the Sun hit the Earth`s atmosphere and produced some fantastic northern lights that played over the snow-clad landscape during all the night.

At some points during the night there was even some all-red auroras mixed with the green, which is not a common sight even within the Arctic circle. This looks very promising for the polar darkness period, which really ought to be called the polar lights period...

måndag 21 november 2011

Goodbye Sun

Tomorrow, the polar night period will begin here in Tromsø in Northern Norway, meaning that the Sun won`t rise above the horizon until January next year. Depending on the location, the length of the polar night period varies from just 20 hours on the Arctic circle to as much as 179 days of the year at the poles. Here in Tromsø the polar night period is "officially" between 25 November - 17 January, but many different definitions (and traditions) exist, and, due to the surrounding mountains blocking the view, the polar night in Tromsø is said to start on the 22 of November.

The last sunrise of 2011

The polar night can only be experienced inside the polar circles and can therefore only be experienced in seven different countries (not counting Antarctica); Sweden, Norway, Finland, Russia, Greenland, US and Canada. To be perfectly strict, Iceland also has a tiny fraction of land within the Arctic circle.

Contrary to common belief, the polar night is not just dark, cold and horrible. To me, this is by far the most beautiful time of the year. A typical day during the polar night period begins with a long slow dawn in different hues of deep blue colours peaking with some orange-yellowish glow where the Sun should have been. Just when you believe the sun is about to rise above the horizon, a long slow dusk starts, turning the snow-covered mountains pink against the cold blue light. Then the Moon and the stars start to rise over the snow-covered landscape and the northern lights begin to play and dance like green and purple ribbons in the sky.

Tromsø during polar darkness

The polar darkness is also a very good time for cosy evenings in front of the fireplace, a time for reading good books and drink hot chocolate in cafès, and last but not least, a time to enjoy the northern lights under the stars! Entering the polar darkness also means that there will be a "return of the Sun"-celebration in the end of January to look forward to...

The blue light of the polar darkness