Yesterday I wrote about the Coastal Steamer and how summer is the best time to experience it, not just because of the weather but because of the light. The nights will be very short, and even non-existing as you get north of the Arctic Circle. It is a very special feeling and one of the coolest things about visiting Norway.
As I said, it is technically only midnight sun if you are north of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle is a parallel of latitude that runs 66 degrees north of Equator. Anywhere north of this circle will have at least one day a year when the sun is above the horizon for an entire 24 hours. So if you are a ways north of the circle, you will have many of these nights. And even if you are south of it, the nights will still be really short. I grew up in Oslo, which is at 60 degrees north and comparable to Anchorage Alaska, at 61 degrees north. While we don't have real midnight sun, around midsummer it is only dark from about 11:30pm to 3am. It is funny to walk around at 4am and it looks like day but nobody is around!
Tromsø is the biggest city in northern Norway, and a good example of a place with midnight sun. Officially, it has midnight sun (the sun not setting at all) from 18 May to 26 July. But as Wikipedia says: "Due to Tromsø's position near the top of the globe, twilight is longer, meaning there is no real darkness between late April and mid August." I was there around July 23-24 two years ago and this is what midnight looked like:
I also visited Tromsø when I was a kid, and I was pretty fascinated by the whole thing! When it was sunny, it didn't seem that weird - although there is no real darkness, the sun does move on the sky and 2am does look different than 2pm. But then it rained for four days non-stop and that was totally confusing - the amount of light looked the same day and night since there was no sunshine! Strange. People who live up north really take advantage of the long days and spend lots of time outside.
Another interesting fact is that since the amount of light is so different from summer to winter (I will write about polar nights tomorrow), in fall and spring the change every day is rather dramatic. Since the polar nights (we call it "the dark time" in Norwegian) in Tromsø run from 25 November to 17 January, it means that in the four months from late July to late November, it goes from no night at all, to all night! I think the change is something like 10 -15 minutes every day, which means that in just four to six days, the day gets one hour darker or one hour lighter, depending on whether it is fall or spring. It sure makes for an interesting life!
The short summer nights are definitely one of the best things about northern Norway, Tomorrow I will write about the looong winter nights and how it affects life in Norway.