Image from UNIS webcam
In one of those “naked underneath all those clothes” enticements, the sun revealed itself to Longyearbyen on Tuesday for the first time since late October – if 27 minutes of “exposure” behind a lot of clouds and mountains counts.
Still, the end of the polar night in the world’s northernmost town is cause for observance, even if it’s nowhere near the level of celebration that will take place in about three weeks during Solfestuka when most of the town actually glimpses its first sunlight in months. The sun officially rose at 11:59 a.m. and set at 12:26 p.m., adding an extra bit of white at the southern horizon to the “blue light” Longyearbyen residents have been enjoying for the past couple of weeks.
“With the sun coming back, so do the gorgeous colors, before and after sunset,” wrote Dario Di Girolamo, in a post on an Italian Svalbard-themed Facebook page that is among the many filled wit photos showing the horizon hues of the season.
A few posts with peeks of the actual sun are visible thanks to some of the more vigorous sunseekers, who climbed the taller hills surrounding Longyearbyen or ventured far from them. But those efforts will need to be increasingly less vigorous – and rapidly so – during the coming days as the amount of daily sunlight will grow in hours, rather than minutes as seen in most of the rest of the world.
The sun rose at 11:14 a.m. and set at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday, a gain of 1 hour and 29 minutes from Tuesday. The amount of sunlight will surpass four hours on Sunday and seven hours on Feb. 28.
However, the surrounding mountains will shield the center of Longyearbyen from direct sunlight until midday March 8, which not-so-coincidentally is the high point of the annual Solfestuka festival when hundreds gather to worship in the literal sunspot. But from there the exposure will continue to grow rapidly, with the town shinning under the 24-hour daylight of the midnight sun starting April 17.