Photo: NTB SCANPIX.Photo: NTB SCANPIX

Svalbard’s Solar Eclipse

Last Friday, the moon’s shadow swept across the North Atlantic and crossed the Norwegian island archipelago, Svalbard. Enthusiast and professionals from all over the world, including China, came to see the rare phenomenon of a total solar eclipse.

A total eclipse only happens when the moon is positioned between the sun and the earth, and covers the entire disc of the sun. The shadow, created by the moon, traveled across the surface of the earth for 1 hour and 10 minutes before it, eventually, disappeared.  It is more than 60 years since Norway experienced a total solar eclipse like the one on March 20. This rare and beautiful phenomenon dramatically increased Svalbard’s popularity as a travel destination, to the extent that many hotels  had been fully booked since 2007.

Svalbard’s only year-around settlement Longyearbyen more than doubled its inhabitants last week, and many visitors had to sleep in tent-camps facing the outside temperature that easily drops to below 20 degrees Celsius during the night. Longyearbyen rarely gets this crowded, which must have been an experience in itself for the locals having so many visitors. At the gathering places in Longyearbyen, researchers held presentations during the time leading up to the eclipse.

The eclipse itself started on Friday morning at 10 o’clock. The visitors and most of the locals had moved out of Longyearbyen to find locations where the sun would be visible. A large group of researchers, including representatives from NASA, had their instruments and cameras ready when the eclipse started. When the total eclipse occurred, the surroundings went almost as dark as night and it stayed that way for a little more than two minutes. A time of a life experience for the people present that left many beautiful and unique photos to be enjoyed by the rest of us.


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