Photos of these events
Information and guestbook installed at dial, 14 July, 2004
A green box with a laminated information card and guestbook is now at the site - many thanks to Knut Mikalsen for helping with the installation. It was pleasing to see that many people have signed the book in the first couple of months since its introduction, with over 20 pages now full.
Summer Solstice, 21 June, 2004
The summer solstice in 2004 was on 21 June (it varies from 20 to 22 June). It was actually raining for this year - the closest photos I could get were taken at solar midnight on 16 June and 22 June. The altitude of the sun in the north at midnight on the summer solstice is 11 degrees and 39 minutes (more, if you take into account light refraction) and in the south at midday is around 36 degrees. These photos have caused much excitement in various sundial societies! Please see photos page.
Soldagen, 7 March - one day early!
'Soldagen' or 'Sun Day' is officially 8 March, when the rays of the sun reach the old hospital steps (Sykehustrappa) near the church. The hospital doesn't exist any more, but a replacement set of steps was built on the spot as that was always the place deemed to be the one signifying the arrival of the sun to Longyearbyen. This year, the sun reached the spot a day early, due to the leap year. Tony and I were thrilled that the rays also reached the face of the dial for about 20 minutes - although the dial is in a direct line with the steps and the first rays of the sun, it is downhill to a fair extent, so there was no certainty the rays would reach it on this important day. During these precious 20 minutes, Tony made the final adjustments. He had to work quickly! The official Soldagen remains the same every year on 8 March, with schoolchildren and community members celebrating by the Sykehustrappa (old hospital steps).
The Inauguration - 6 March 2004
Despite the excitement of two polar bears arriving to town over the ice in Adventfjorden, there was a very good attendance. During the speeches, the crowd could see the action going on down at the shore. Straight after the inauguration, two large flares were fired with a loud boom to frighten the bears away. Unfortunately, although the gnomon is a depiction of a polar bear, we could not invite any representatives to the ceremony!
The inauguration started with the Beatles 'Here Comes the Sun', and although the sun was not due to reach the spot for another two days, the weather was quite bearable at only minus six and almost no wind. Champagne, snacks and sweets were provided - no need to chill the champagne, and the dip was getting rather difficult to get the biscuits into at the end! Leaflets were handed out and Louise made a speech followed by the unveiling and speech by Nils Aasbo, Deputy Governor of Svalbard. Louise and Tony were then presented each with a bouquet of fresh yellow roses, wrapped well to prevent the petals freezing.
Installation of the sundial - 5 March 2004
There was a good deal of snow falling, but luckily it wasn't too cold, although Tony, never having been in arctic conditions, had to keep returning to the warmth of the car. The day was nerve-wracking, with bits and pieces of the dial having been made in different countries. Tony arrived at 1 am on the same morning, the dial arriving with him having been finished (almost) the night before after cut-throat timing with his contractor. The granite base had been cut in Eide, mid-Norway, and sent by boat to Tromso, where Louise picked it up and brought it on the plane. The stainless steel base had been waterjet cut in Newcastle and sent by airfreight directly to Svea (mining settlement approximately 50 km SE of Longyearbyen) where Wiggo organised the welding of it. The three 5 m long wooden stabilising pylons had been rammed into the ground the week before. I had lined up Jøran and Trygve from Leonard Nilsen & Sønner to do the final installation but we were just keeping our fingers crossed that the weather would be kind, the pieces would all fit together (not so easy when they have been made in four different places!) and we could get it set up in time for the inauguration the next day.
There were a few setbacks including the holes not being drilled in the correct places on the granite block, so new ones had to be drilled - Jøran and Trygve were extremely helpful and able to solve any problems which arose. It felt strange leaving the new and untarnished dial outside to the mercy of the elements, but public monuments must be tough - only the years will show how resilient this one is. Stainless steel does not corrode as quickly as other metals, and granite is very non-porous. We shall see how it scrubs up after the first winter, with temperatures down to below -30.