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Discover the midnight sun
During the time of the midnight sun (also called nightless night or polar day), the sun never sets below the horizon. In other words, it shines 24 hours a day.
What is midnight sun?
This natural phenomenon is caused by the inclination of the earth’s axis in relation to its orbit. It only exists in the latitudes from the Arctic Circle northwards. The closer you get to the pole, the longer the polar day lasts. If the atmosphere did not refract light, the Arctic Circle would be the boundary at which the centre of the sun reaches above the horizon for 24 hours on exactly one day, namely the summer solstice on 21 or 22 June. However, thanks to the size of the sun and refraction, from Rovaniemi at least part of the sun can be seen above the horizon for approximately one month, from 6 June to 7 July.
During this time, darkness never falls, but daylight continues 24 hours a day. The locals are used to this and appreciate its invigorating effect on the mind, trying to make the most of the long day. For travellers, the nightless night can be a somewhat trying experience, as many find it difficult to sleep in daylight. However, the midnight sun is a fascinating and worthwhile experience – and you can always sleep later!
Where can you see the midnight sun?
Good places for watching the midnight sun close to the city centre in Rovaniemi include the Jätkänkynttilä and Ounasjoki bridges, the riverfront of Ounasjoki outside the Arktikum, and the top of Ounasvaara. The midnight sun is visible whenever the weather is not too overcast. Even cloudy nights, however, are bright from late May to mid-July. There are many guided tours that take visitors to the best locations for photographing the midnight sun. Guides spice up these tours with a wealth of tales and information on Lapland’s natural world and the land of the midnight sun.
A tale of the midnight sun
As we all know, long ago Santa’s elves entered into an agreement with Mother Sun to have daylight around the clock during the summer. Because the elves sleep so much in winter, they are full of energy in summer and have plenty to do, for which, of course, they need light.
Another reason is the elves’ international summer council, where all important elf affairs are debated. As you can imagine, this is not done in a single day. Council members convene around Santa’s big table for as long as it takes to discuss all matters of significance, grateful for the bright light that keeps them awake.
But how does Mother Sun manage to stay awake for fifty days in a row? The secret is that she takes a little nap each night. You may have noticed how the light changes, as if it were shining through a transparent veil. As Mother Sun rests under her thin silky blanket, the air cools and silence falls. Only the mosquitoes dance in the air like summer-night spirits.
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