Summer Solstice at 64°08' North

Trip Start May 07, 2010
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Trip End Sep 04, 2010


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Flag of Iceland  ,
Monday, June 21, 2010

OK, over the past month I've shown you some things in Iceland that are pretty cool. Now it's time to show you something I hate. In June, the sun never goes away! All day, all night, every day, just lightness. Natural light. Always. Even when I close all the doors and curtains I can still see traces of it. At any time of day or night. It's really messing with me. The last couple days I've even closed the curtains and turned the lights on during the day a couple times, because the artificial light is preferable to the natural light. So the sun technically goes behind the mountains for a couple hours at night, but it never gets dark. And then many days 4am will be much brighter than 9am because it will be clear skies at 4 and cloudy at 9. It's really hard to know when to get up on those days. I just want to sleep until the sun goes away, but it never does.

I find myself daydreaming about night. How grand it will be to go home next week and see a black sky! I want to do some kind of pagan night ritual to worship the night sky. Maybe that would bring it back to me sooner. I think it would be really cool to be a vampire. Except that I faint when I see blood. Other than that. But to be out all night basking in the darkness and then sleep all day in a nice dark coffin. I could use a couple weeks of that.

People in Iceland, though, they love the sun. They think it's great that it's light all night in the summer. They think it's the best thing about Iceland in the summer. When I told someone that I like pretty much everything about Iceland except that the sun never goes away, I was told that "there is a special prison in Iceland where we lock up people who don't like the sun." Seriously. Not that there seriously is a prison full of friends for me, but seriously that he said that. Like the fact that someone could dislike the sun was so horrifying to him that he wanted to lock me up.

So tonight is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. In Reykjavík the sun sets at 12:05am and rises at 2:55am. That's 21 hours and 10 minutes of direct sunlight today. And of course the 2 hours and 50 minutes of "night" are not dark. My plan was to photograph the city at sunset, 1:30am (the darkest time of night), and sunrise. But there's some really dark clouds out tonight that make my plan a little anti-climactic. I took the sunset photos and a couple at 1:30 then went to bed.

These pictures are from my neighborhood, which is nicknamed "Shadytown." They call it Shadytown because it's on the north side of a hill so it gets less sun than other parts of the city. In most of the city there are limits to how tall a building can be, basically that it can't shade the building or street to the north of it. But in Shadytown they just figure it's shady anyway so build as tall as you like. And there's only ocean to the north of Shadytown so tall buildings only shade each other. So most of the tallest buildings in Reykjavík are all right here in Shadytown. As someone who likes shade and water, I think it's bad planning because the tall buildings really limit the ocean views. When you build a 20 story building right on the coast, nobody else gets to see the ocean.

OK, well, I'm sure that every single person reading this loves the sun. So enjoy the pictures, be jealous that you don't have sun all night, and laugh at me for hating it.







P.S. Here's a really pretty photo of midnight on June 17th.

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