Norway is called the “Midnight Sun” because it’s summertime all year long. The sunsets only for a few hours and then rise again as if nothing had happened.
This means that there are more than 20 hours of daylight every day – which can be both good and bad. For one, Norwegians have plenty of time to spend outside in the fresh air; but on the other hand, they also need to work longer days to keep up with their chores. On top of this, some people say that living at such high latitudes has adverse effects on their mental health!
Is Norway the only country in the world that is called “Midnight Sun”?
Norway is not the only country to have this nickname. Other places with a similar situation include Lapland, Finland.
It’s summertime all year long in Norway – and perhaps even more so in the northern part of that country called Finnmark. It’s also commonly known as the land of the midnight sun or the North Pole, for that matter! This is because Alaska, Canada, and Russia are all north of Norway.
However, it’s not quite the same situation as it is in Norway. There aren’t nearly as many hours of daylight in Finland. On top of that, some parts of the country never see sunlight – or at least not during summertime!
What countries share a similar latitude to Norway?
There are only a few countries that have the same latitude as Norway:
In fact, the northernmost part of Norway puts it on the same latitude as Greenland. And because Greenland is located at high latitudes, it’s not surprising that its climate is similar to Scandinavia.
These two places even have similar environments – but there are, of course, some exceptions. Some parts of Greenland are frozen year-round, whereas Norway is not; plus, Norway isn’t nearly as cold nor as windy!
In any case, both countries share the same summer experience: they get an abundance of daylight during these months.
In fact, it’s common to refer to this part of the year as “the midnight sun.”
What is ‘White Nights’ syndrome?
This nickname came about a long time ago, although it’s not clear where it originated. One of the first instances in which this term was used appeared in an Old Norse poem called Haustlöng:
The summer scorns the darkness with its sorcerer’s fire; turns to poison every root and leaf, the beneficent clothes and the herbs of healing.
In any case, it’s certainly safe to say that this name has stuck around for a long time – and will undoubtedly be used by many people in the future!
But how does Norway get so much daylight? Well, during summertime, the sun is positioned higher up on the horizon than during the rest of the year.
This means that it stays above the horizon for a more extended period and provides more daylight hours.
The effects of this phenomenon – called the “long day effect” or “midnight sun” – can be seen most clearly in Northern Scandinavia, Alaska, and parts of Russia (such as Murmansk).
What does the midnight sun look like?
Imagine it this way: Imagine taking a walk outside in July and August. At midnight of one day, the sunsets rise at midnight of the next; you would see the light when you usually expect darkness!
This is how it works during these months – but there are a few changes to the light. For one, it never gets completely dark; plus, the sun seems much bigger!
What causes this phenomenon?
Norway has more hours of daylight during summertime due to its location on Earth – particularly the fact that it’s located so far north. During the winter months, the North Pole has pointed away from the sun. But when summer comes around, the North Pole is pointed toward Earth – meaning that Norway’s latitude can get a great deal of sunlight.
This means that there are more hours in which light could shine on Norway during summertime, but of course, this isn’t what really happens.
This is because the Earth (and Norway) are in constant motion around the sun. On days when the North Pole is pointed toward the sun, Norway doesn’t receive sunlight for more than a few minutes – instead, it appears to stay up above the horizon for an extended time!
Thanks to this phenomenon, Norway enjoys about 2.5 hours more daylight during the summer months – and this difference can be even more significant for places like Murmansk, Russia. In fact, on some days in July and August, there are actually 24 hours of daylight!
However, not all of Norway has access to the midnight sun. This is because the location isn’t everything: it depends on how high above the horizon you can see!
The higher up you are, the more of the sun’s rays will reach your eyes – and therefore, the more daylight you’ll get. For example, if you’re located at a high altitude (say, in a plane), then it will appear as if there is no midnight sun at all.
As mentioned earlier, Norway has a lot of daylight during summertime. And while that might seem like a fantastic benefit, it’s not without its drawbacks: the bright sunlight is often damaging to your eyes. In fact, researchers have found that these months can result in more cases of eye disease than any other part of the year!
Of course, this is only one aspect of the midnight sun; there are many more, which we’ll look at in a moment. But before that, we first need to discuss where exactly the best places to see it are.
Why do I always want to go into hibernation when it’s dark out?
The most obvious downside to the midnight sun is, of course, that it takes away your ability to sleep. Because of this disruption in circadian rhythms – a biological process involving an internal clock that can keep track of 24 hours – those who are used to getting a good night’s rest might find themselves in quite a bit of trouble.
Why can’t Norwegians go outside during wintertime?
During wintertime, Norway has located at such a high latitude that the country experiences 24-hour darkness for several weeks.
Although the sun never actually sets, it spends most of its time in slumber during wintertime (except Christmas). Thus, you’re not able to see daylight for an extended period in December and January.
In fact, the sun rises after 9 AM and sets again before 3 PM.
If you were to watch this phenomenon without any protection, it would be akin to staring at a light bulb for 8 hours straight!
Moreover, the bright sunlight during the summertime can cause serious health risks if you don’t wear proper eye protection. Thus, Norwegians can’t go outside during wintertime.