Skies over Sápmi
In many ways the skies over Sápmi is like an enormous painting that changes shapes and colors during the day and the year. The evening glow of the sun can create light and color shows that rival any man made or natural scene. Then there are special conditions that create special effects.
Arctic climate can create unusual phenomena. Most spectacular are the midnight sun and the Aurora Borealis. More about them later.
In the winter mirages are often seen. Just as in the desert, there can be large variations in temperature among different air strata. For instance, the air is much colder closer to the ice on the ground and the frozen ocean than it is a few meters up. Sunlight hitting an airborne object is deflected as it passes through different layers of air. So an observer will see a mirage. With warm air resting above colder layers of air, which is the case in the Arctic and when temperatures are far below 0 centigrade’s, the deflection of light makes objects appear larger, straighter and taller. This effect makes it sometimes possible to see objects below the horizon. Another Arctic phenomenon is fog made of tiny ice crystals suspended in the air. The fog reduces visibility but the Sun is usually not completely obscured. Deflected in various directions depending on shape and position of the ice crystals sunlight breaks through as luminous haloes.
These haloes are more or less colorful depending on the degree light is reflected or refracted.
Because of the way the Earth is inclined, sunlight is not distributed evenly between the Equator and the poles. As a result, for six months the North Pole is sunlit 24 hours a day. So there we have it - sunshine at midnight. During those six months, the sun’s height in the sky varies every day. It gets higher until June 21 and then gets lower, but it never sets. After the six months, the sun dips below the horizon. It’s the start of the long polar night, which also lasts six months. The farther you get from the poles, the less marked these extremes become. At a certain distance from the pole, the period of continuous light lasts only for one day (June 21, the summer solstice). And the period of continuous darkness also lasts only a day (December 21, the winter solstice). The point at which this happens is the Arctic Circle. But even if the sun isn't over the horizon there can still be bright daylight. So in the Laponia area for instance, there are daylight 24 hours from mid May to beginning of August. In Gällivare, the real midnight sun period is from 5th of June to 7th of July.
Northern Light/Guovsahas/Aurora Borealis
Guovsahas is the north Sámi name for Aurora Borealis/Northern light. This awesome magnificent phenomenon is often seen in Sápmi. Guovsahas is an important part of Sámi mythology and played an important role in the old days. It demanded special respected and there are many myths and stories about Guovsahas. Elders still tell these stories among the Sámi people. Children were taught to stay still and be silent if there was Guovsahas in the sky. To misbehave under the Guovsahas was considered very bad.
Everyone who witnesses Guovsahas live will understand the respect the Sámi felt and feel. The visitor will probably feel the same.
Today, it is possible to take part in the Sámi way to experience Guovsahas. Check the links out.
There is also an Aurora Borealis “weather station” that predict appearance of Aurora Borealis. It is Alaska but their prognoses cover the world.
Published 781 days ago by lennart.pittja