Polish scientists saw light on Svalbard archipelago

Polish geologists at the Polish Polar Station on the Spitsbergen Island, Svalbard archipelago, Norway, saw the sunlight for the first time this year.

Although the polar night ended on Tuesday, February 12, the first rays of the Sun shone on the station only on Valentine’s Day February 14 due to heavy clouds covering the sky on the two previous days.

The first day (Tuesday) over Spitsbergen “lasted an hour and six minutes. We hoped that we would see the sun for the first time since October 27, 2018,” wrote one of the scientists Tomasz Kopeć on Facebook.

The scientists tried their luck on Wednesday but to no avail. “The clouds were exactly where we expected the Sun to be, that is south, right above the horizon,” wrote Mr Kopeć.

The scientists finally saw the sunlight on Thursday. “After 11 am the nearby mountaintops were already lit with direct sunlight. At a quarter to noon, the sun showed up,” wrote the scientist, adding that “we almost forgot what it looks like. The day lasted two hours and 45 minutes.”

The geologists, who used welding masks to look at the star, explained that the Sun’s return “after a couple of months of the polar night may turn out harmful. Eyes are especially sensitive to its rays. For this reason, it is necessary to resort to appropriate protective measures in order to avoid overexposure to the Sun radiation.”

The Polish Polar Station is a year-round scientific outpost located at Isbjørnhamna, which is a bay in Wedel Jarlsberg Land at Spitsbergen, Svalbard, Norway. The station, which is the north-most Polish scientific outpost, is managed by the Geophysics Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Its whole-year-round activities have been conducted since 1978.