North Norway’s polar night is about to begin. Here are the facts you need to know

In late November, the sun will set in Tromsø and won’t be seen again until January.

North Norway’s polar night is about to begin. Here are the facts you need to know
The Northern Lights during the polar night in Longyearbyen. Photo: bublik_polina/Depositphotos

Other parts of North Norway above the Arctic Circle will see similar months of the annual polar night.

In Longyearbyen on Svalbard, the polar night lasts from the last week of October until mid-February.

Here are all the facts you need to know about the ‘dark time’ above the Arctic Circle in Norway.

The polar night — defined as the period in which the sun is below the horizon 24 hours a day — occurs both north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle (at opposite times of the year).

In the northern hemisphere, the polar night occurs due to the northern part of the earth tilts away from the sun during this time.

The Latin name for the Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, means ‘red sky at morning in the north’.

Photo: surangastock/Depositphotos

The Northern Lights occur as a result of particles from the sun hitting the earth’s atmosphere, or changes in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind.

Norwegian folklore says you shouldn’t wave at the Northern Lights. Doing so will cause the lights to come and take you away, so the myth goes.

People who live north of the Arctic Circle often find it harder to sleep during the polar night. This is because melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate circadian rhythms, is stimulated by light.

Photo: MitaStockImages/Depositphotos

Darker days mean the body finds it harder to regulate its melatonin levels, which can wreak havoc on sleeping patterns.

Although the olar night is associated with pitch black, it’s not completely dark by definition. In fact, only small areas close to the poles experience complete darkness.

Since ‘night’ is considered to be when the centre of the Sun is below a free horizon, some level of light is often present, particularly when skies are cloudless.

Although many find the long absence of the sun a daunting prospect, others embrace it and even prefer it to its summer opposite, the polar day. Incidentally, the Norwegian term for polar day is fargetid (colour time).



Norway hunter admits to shooting elk in zoo

The hunter in Norway who shot two elk in a zoo a fortnight ago has admitted to police that he killed the animals, but claims he was unaware he was shooting through a fence.

Norway hunter admits to shooting elk in zoo
Two of the elk at Polar Park. Photo: Polar Park
In a formal police interview on Monday, the man admitted to shooting an elk inside an enclosure, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of one year’s imprisonment. 
“The hunter acknowledges that he is guilty of violating of the Wildlife Act in that he shot an elk standing inside the enclosure,” Katrine Grimnes, police superintendent with the police in Målselv, told NRK
“He also acknowledges that he may have caused the bullet wounds suffered by the calf, which later had to be euthanized. But he said that he had not at any time seen the calf.” 
Grimnes said that the forensic veterinary report backed up this claim, with the bullet appearing to have passed through the body of the bull elk and then on into the calf. 
She said that a police visit to the site of the accident backed up the hunter’s claim that the fence was not easy to see. 
“We’ve even been on site and we also see that it can be hard to spot the fence, which is partially hidden by vegetation,” Grimnes said.
Heinz Strathmann, the chief executive of Polar Park, told The Local that while he accepted the shooting had been an accident, he struggled to see the hunter as completely blameless. 
“What I know is that the fence is a metal fence and it’s four metres high. If you couldn’t see it, there must have been a lot of trees, and if there are a lot of trees you shouldn’t shoot,” he said. “I’m a hunter myself and I don’t shoot if there are a lot of trees.”  
He said that the adult elk, which was born in the park, had been one and a half years old, while the calf was born in the spring. 
“We were at first very surprised, and we are sad about it, of course,” he said. “The animals we have, we know them closely and we have a relationship with them. If you lose two of your close animals you are more than sad.” 
But he said the zoo was not concerned about whether the hunter was punished. 
“My first thoughts were not about revenge. The police are handling the case, and if they find out that he’s done something illegal, they will probably give him quite a fine, but that's not my main concern. My main concern is that two of our animals died in a tragic accident. I don’t think this was done intentionally.”