Northern lights over Saltoluokta.

You might think that in Arctic Sweden, we have darkness or daylight. In the winter, the sun never rises above the horizon, and in the summer, the sun never sets. But in fact, we have light all year round. Just different kinds of light. Some darker, some brighter, and some very colourful.

If you translate it directly, Kaamos means – darkness. But those who live in the polar regions know that’s not the case. It’s how the snow magically reflects blue light; Kaamos is the word used for this particular light phenomenon. Call it the blue hour, or the blue light, around and above the arctic circle in December and January. Sometimes from 10 o’clock in the ‘morning’ until three in the afternoon, there is daylight. If you look north, the sky is blue. But if you look south, there is a blush along the horizon, coloured by the sun. Around two o’ clock every afternoon, and for about fifteen minutes on a clear day, there’s a strange phenomenon that we can call the blue moment. Everything, the snow-covered landscape as well as the sky, is illuminated by a special, magical blue light. This natural phenomenon only occurs in the Arctic and can’t be experienced anywhere else.

In May, the midnight sun arrives at Riksgränsen. But before these white nights, we get some truly spectacular sunsets. The old saying goes “Red at night, shepherd’s delight; red in the morning, shepherd’s warning”. And the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute have actually proven that there is a greater risk of rain on days preceded by a colourful dawn, and less chance of rain the day after a beautiful sunset. The red colour is a result of the distance between the sun and the Earth; the shorter blue and green light waves can’t reach us, only the longer red waves get through. Apart from the afterglow you also get a phenomenon up in the mountains that is similar to what you’ll get in the Alps: Alpenglow. The mountains and the landscape are brightly painted by sunset itself, of course, but when the sun no longer illuminates the entire landscape, the red and pink light stays on the highest peaks. A kind of a third stage of Alpenglow that the Germans call Nachglühen occurs half an hour after sunset when the light from the sun is reflected back down onto the mountain peaks.

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