Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The sun is back!

It disappears for four months each winter and now it's finally back.

Just to dispel a myth, and answer the inevitable question - no, this does not mean it's dark four months a year in Norway. It simply means where I'm from, we don't get direct sunlight between mid October and February 24th.

The reason for this is Norway's mountains. When the sun is at it's lowest point in the sky (winter solstice - December 21st for the northern hemisphere), due to the tilt of the earth's axis the rays have no chance of making it over the mountains and down into the valley between them.

It looks something like this (no laughing please, I only have a tiny eee and a sucky touchpad with malfunctioning buttons);

This is more or less what the valley looks like, lake in the bottom, our house the red one on the left. The yellow sun is the "summer sun" - it's high in the sky (the northern part of the earth is tilting towards it), the orange "winter sun" is lower in the sky.

Clearly, no direct sunlight does not mean it's pitch black outside, which a lot of people seem to think - although when the sun is at its lowest point we only have light for around five-six hours a day. Basically, we're in the shade for one third of the year - it's dark and it's cold.

Which hopefully explains (in the simplest way possible) why I'm so the glad the sun "is back" - it means a little warmth, a little light, and only a little more time until spring comes!

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