Between the months of September and March, Rjukan lies in the shadow of the mountains and doesn’t get sunlight. The extreme periods of dark and light in the world’s northernmost countries are a source of curiosity for their more southerly neighbours.
Rjukan is tucked away in the folds of a deep valley in Norway. Rjukan began its life as a hydroelectric industry town in 1905. But it didn’t take long for the locals to realise that for over half the year their new homes were completely deprived of direct sunlight. In desperation for vitamin D, Sam Eyde the entrepreneur who had started the settlement had a chairlift of constructed so people could get a dose of the light if things got really grim.
Things continued for almost 100 years, until an artist named Martin Anderson moved to Rjukan in 2002. Deeply affected by the town’s lack of sunlight, Martin decided to come up with a more practical solution. His answer? Giant mirrors.
The idea originally came from a man named Oscar Kittilsen in 1913, but remained only a theory until Anderson rallied for funding to make the proposal a reality. After installing three mirrors, called heliostats, on the northern mountainside, Anderson became responsible for the pool of sunlight that now trails through the town square of Rjukan for a few hours a day, provided there’s some sun somewhere in the region.
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