Brought to you by Newscorp Australia

Norwegian island where the sun doesn’t set for 69 days in the summer wants to scrap time

Kara Godfrey, June 19, 2019 7:00PM The Sun

Print Article

The island of Sommaroy in northern Norway has 69 days in summer when the sun doesn't set. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraThe island of Sommaroy in northern Norway has 69 days in summer when the sun doesn't set. Picture: Getty Images

geography

Reading level: green

The residents of an island near the Arctic Circle* plan to scrap time for two months each summer.

Norway’s island of Sommaroy, translated to Summer Island, doesn’t get dark at all between May 18 and July 26.

With the sun not setting for 69 days, it means there is no conventional* day-to-day running of the island, which is home to 300 people.

The island also doesn’t experience any sunrise between November and January, when its residents live in total darkness.

Local Kjell Ove Hveding said locals made the most of summer.

“There’s constantly daylight, and we act accordingly*,” he said in a statement on CNN.

“In the middle of the night, which city folk might call 2am, you can spot children playing soccer, people painting their houses or mowing their lawns, and teens going for a swim.”

Residents met at the town hall earlier this week to sign a petition to show they wanted to officially make this change and discuss what they needed to do to make it work.

Locals already ignore the concept of time during the summer months, with the main trades of fishing and tourism not running by usual opening hours.

It’s hoped that if the time-free zone is introduced, there will also be no opening or closing times for schools or shops and people will be allowed flexible working hours.

Geirangerfjord media_cameraNorway is a popular tourist and cruise ship destination in the northern hemisphere summer. This is the famous Geirangerfjord in Norway. Picture: Istock

Mr Hveding told Norway’s public broadcaster NRK: “All over the world, people are characterised* by stress and depression.

“In many cases this can be linked to the feeling of being trapped, and here the clock plays a role. We will be a time-free zone where everyone can live their lives to the fullest.”

However, some locals were unsure how easy it would be to operate for tourism businesses.

Malin Nordheim, a receptionist at a hotel, also told NRK: “It will be challenging with the guests in connection with check-in and check-out, opening hours at the bar and restaurant.”

It isn’t the only strange law in Norway. There is also a remote town where it is illegal to die because it is completely impractical.

If someone does die at Longyearbyen, the body must be transported away from the island as the low temperature means it would stay frozen forever.

Longyearbyen, Svalbard. media_cameraEven in spring it’s still cold at Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen Island, Norway. Photo: iStock

WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SET
Distance from the North or South Poles determines how long (in summer) or how short (in winter) a day is.

In the places below, the sun doesn’t set at all between these dates each year:

  • Norway — April 20 to August 22
  • Finland — May to August
  • Sweden — June to July
  • Alaska — May 10 to August 2
  • Iceland — mid-May to mid-August
  • Canada — May 24 to July 20
  • North Pole — late March to late September
  • South Pole — September 23 to March 20

Hobart, Tasmania, Australia’s southernmost city, is not close enough to the South Pole to be included on this list. The sun rises and sets all year, although winter days are very short and summer days are very long.

On December 22, the longest day of the year, Hobart’s day is 15 hours and 21 minutes. This is two hours and 13 minutes longer than Cairns in Queensland on the same day.

This story originally appeared in The Sun and was republished here with permission.

GLOSSARY

  • Arctic Circle: a circle drawn on world maps or globes around the North Pole. Includes northern parts of Alaska (US), Canada, Russia, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland
  • conventional: regular, normal
  • accordingly: in a way that is sensible in the circumstances
  • characterised: describe the features of something

EXTRA READING

Shortest day of the year is here

Town where polar bears outnumber people

Massive iceberg sparks tsunami fears

Hibernation for astronauts

Seed vault could one day feed the world

QUICK QUIZ

  1. For what length of time does the sun stay up in summer?
  2. How many people live on the island?
  3. What was the purpose of the town meeting?
  4. What is Malin Nordheim’s job?
  5. How much longer is December 22 in Cairns compared to Hobart?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. For or Against?
Do you think that this is a good idea or a bad idea? Write down as many points, ideas or reasons for and against.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

2. Extension
What would it be like to live in Sommaroy when it is dark 24 hours a day? Plan and write a piece of creative writing inspired by this.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Critical and Creative Thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: What would you like or not like about living in a place where the sun doesn’t set in summer? How would you manage winter, when it is dark all the time?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

Extra Reading in geography