This Wednesday, things changed in the remote Norwegian town of Rjukan: For the first time in its history, the town of 3,500 people enjoyed a sunny winter day.
In the past, Rjukan, which is located at the bottom of a valley floor in Southern Norway, did not receive direct sunlight between September and March because the sun’s rays were blocked by the surrounding high mountains.
Because living in darkness for six months a year is pretty miserable, the town decided to be proactive. They built three giant mirrors equipped with sensors that track the sun’s movement and align to shower the town center in a patch of light.
The mirror system cost $US825,000 to build and together they measure about 550 square feet, which is about the size of a two-car garage.
So how does this actually work? Reuters has provided this graphic that explains:
This system was turned on this Wednesday, and by all accounts it was a success. BBC reports that around “1,000 people, among them children in sunglasses, cheered when the main square became bathed in sun,” and that later residents “sipped cocktails on sun loungers, while others played beach volleyball on a makeshift sand court.”
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