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Yearly Archives: 2017 − News & Stories

Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter wreck lifted

The wreck of the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter that cra­s­hed into Isfjord clo­se to Barents­burg pre­vious Thurs­day was lifted last night. The spe­cial ship Maersk For­za was brought to Spits­ber­gen for this task and com­ple­ted the work suc­cessful­ly on the night from Fri­day to Satur­day. The­re were 8 per­sons on board the MI-8-heli­c­op­ter when it cra­s­hed, inclu­ding 5 crew mem­bers and 3 sci­en­tists. One body had alre­a­dy been found some days ago about 130 m away from the wreck. The­re is no trace so far from the other crew mem­bers, and the search for them will be con­tin­ued.

The cock­pit voice recor­der could secu­red tog­e­ther with GPS units which are expec­ted to have the actu­al flight track saved. They will be brought to Mosk­va for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­ti­ons.

Mean­while, ques­ti­ons are rai­sed regar­ding the cau­se of the crash and the cir­cum­s­tances of the flight. The data recor­ders that were secu­red are likely to shed light on the actu­al crash. It seems that the flight was not legal accor­ding to appli­ca­ble Nor­we­gi­an legis­la­ti­on. The Nor­we­gi­an flight per­mit issued to the ope­ra­tor covers only flights in direct com­bi­na­ti­on to the ope­ra­ti­ons of the mining com­pa­ny Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol, for exam­p­le trans­port of com­pa­ny employees bet­ween Lon­gye­ar­by­en and Barents­burg. Com­mer­cial flights and trans­por­ta­ti­on of tou­rists and sci­en­tists are expli­ci­te­ly excluded.

The­re were 3 sci­en­tists on board the heli­c­op­ter when it cra­s­hed.

The wreck of the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter, which cra­s­hed on Octo­ber 26 clo­se to Barents­burg into Isfjord, on board the ship Maersk For­za (pho­to © SHT).

helicopter wreck lifted.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Kabel­våg-Svol­vær-Lauk­vik – 03rd Novem­ber 2017

The wind had beco­me even stron­ger during the night, so we were quite hap­py to be alre­a­dy in the har­bour of Kabel­våg. It is much nicer to go for a litt­le walk and to visit the Lofot­mu­se­um or the Lofo­ta­qua­ri­um. Hats off to the group who went for the hike from Kabel­våg to Svol­vær in wind, rain, very wet ter­rain and approa­ching dark­ness!

Unfort­u­na­te­ly, the har­bour mas­ter had orde­red us to a remo­te cor­ner of the indus­tri­al har­bour of Svol­vær, for reasons unknown to me. The way to Svol­vær down­town, fol­lo­wing the E10 over a bridge and through a tun­nel, is not exact­ly what I con­sider north­land roman­tic. Con­side­ring the rather poor wea­ther, many pre­fer­red the cosi­ness of the ship abo­ve a walk any­way.

But in the evening, we went to the nor­t­hern light ent­re in Lauk­vik to enjoy the hos­pi­ta­li­ty and the pre­sen­ta­ti­on of Rob and Threes in cosy atmo­sphe­re (insi­de; the atmo­sphe­re out­side was rather unp­lea­sant). Ever­y­bo­dy knew ever­y­thing about coro­nal holes, solar wind, magne­to­sphe­re, acti­vi­ty levels etc. after the lec­tu­re, wit­hout any doubt!

Gal­lery – Kabel­våg-Svol­vær-Lauk­vik – 03rd Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

It did actual­ly clear up a litt­le bit later on. The bus ride back to Svol­vær was a scenic plea­su­re, with the light of the full moon on moun­ta­ins, fjords and lakes. It would have been nice to stop to put the tri­pod up. But just enjoy­ing it was also nice! No nor­t­hern light show­ed up during that evening, unfort­u­na­te­ly. Well, we were obvious­ly not up for that bit of luck.

Troll­fjord-Skro­va – 02nd Novem­ber 2017

The wind in Raft­sund, whe­re we had ancho­red for the night, was real­ly strong, but it beca­me a bit less in the ear­ly mor­ning. The com­bi­na­ti­on of the fjords and islands, rug­ged moun­ta­ins, wind and snow made a very true and scenic impres­si­on of this harsh natu­re: wild and beau­tiful. This is how natu­re often is in the far north. Of cour­se, the­re is some­ti­mes a blue, sun­ny sky and calm water. But this here is nor­mal life. Wild and beau­tiful.

„Wild“ and „beau­tiful“ chan­ged in Troll­fjord by the minu­te, as the snow squalls came and went. From zero visi­bi­li­ty to clear views of the moun­ta­ins, from calm waters to screa­ming winds within moments.

We were just about to lea­ve when a who­le fami­ly of 3 sea eagles came along. Seve­ral times, they flew past the ship in clo­se distance. Good fun to have a fast came­ra now 🙂

Gal­lery – Troll­fjord-Skro­va – 02nd Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The attri­buts „wild“ and „beau­tiful“ were also an appro­pria­te descrip­ti­on of our after­noon visit to Skro­va. Ente­ring the har­bour bet­ween all tho­se rocks and sker­ries is always impres­si­ve, and then we were along­side. Soon we were rea­dy for take-off to explo­re this love­ly litt­le island, wal­king through the litt­le sett­le­ment around the har­bour, across the island to some beau­tiful litt­le bays with white sand bea­ches. Wind, cold, snow and approa­ching dark­ness could not keep some bra­ve hikers to ascend Skro­vaf­jel­let. The reward came in shape of stun­ning views over the sea and islands.

We made the short pas­sa­ge to Kabel­våg in the evening. The fore­cast for tomor­row pro­mi­sed more wind, so it was good to get the­re today.

Har­stad – 01st Novem­ber 2017

The histo­ry of the area goes back thou­sands of years, and it has got many chap­ters, most of them rather unp­lea­sant. We had a look at some of that during the morning’s excur­si­on to the Tron­de­nes pen­in­su­la.

The Adolf gun (they real­ly use that term in public) was part of Hitler’s for­ti­fi­ca­ti­on of the Atlan­tic coast. The sheer dimen­si­ons and the tech­no­lo­gy of this lar­ge can­non are as impres­si­ve as its back­ground: peo­p­le do obvious­ly not save any effort or money when it comes to des­troy­ing some­thing. If they only put a frac­tion of that effort and money into making things bet­ter … well. At least, the Adolf gun was never fired in anger, only for test­ing and prac­ti­sing.

Near­by Tron­de­nes Muse­um took us through cen­tu­ries of local histo­ry. Stone age hun­ters and fishers, vikings, ear­ly Chris­ti­ans, stock­fi­sh trade and so on.

Gal­lery – Har­stad – 01st Novem­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Direct­ly upon lea­ving, the sails went up. Soon we thought we might have to take them down again after no time, as we were almost sta­tio­na­ry in the straits nor­the­ast of Har­stad. But then, the wind came back, more sails went up, and we got a love­ly and exci­ting bit of sai­ling, I mean real sai­ling, up to a good 10 knots. A quick turn – the coast just did not want to move, so we had to – and final­ly the wind died down again and the took the sails down. Just in time for the bridge at Risøy­sund, which is always good for an inte­res­t­ing pas­sa­ge (bridge height 30 met­res, height of Antigua’s main mast: 31 meters. So that works!).

Gibostad-Finns­nes-Har­stad – 31st Octo­ber 2017

Gibostad wel­co­med us with a bit of a sur­pri­se: this nice, snow-cover­ed, his­to­ri­cal pier whe­re we had gone along­side was clo­se for traf­fic. Too old, not safe. So the­re was no evening walk.

But of cour­se we wan­ted to have a look at the place, so we just use the zodiac to go ashore in a small boat har­bour around the cor­ner. A pit­to­res­que litt­le ville on the beau­tiful island of Sen­ja, with an „old city“ at the small boat har­bour. The „nost­al­gic bak­ery“ was clo­sed, unfort­u­na­te­ly 🙂 but that was not the point. The point was the beau­tiful land­scape, the stun­ning light, the snow, all the love­ly litt­le details to dis­co­ver. It was all the­re.

Also in Finns­nes, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty to have a look around. A calm, small north Nor­we­gi­an town. Not the cent­re of the world, but if that is what you are loo­king for, then north Nor­way is not your place any­way. But again, love­ly evening colours (at 3 p.m.!) on the moun­ta­ins, and a litt­le, alre­a­dy fro­zen lake in a small forest in the midd­le of town.

Gal­lery – Gibostad-Finns­nes-Har­stad – 31st Octo­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

The stun­ning evening light stay­ed with us until it gave way to twi­light and then dark­ness. The sky remain­ed clear, so we were of cour­se curious what the evening might bring. The auro­ra fore­cast was not exact­ly opti­mi­stic, but so what, after all it was just a fore­cast! Rea­li­ty is still a dif­fe­rent thing. And inde­ed, later in the evening, the­re was a nor­t­hern light! Faint, but cle­ar­ly visi­ble at times!

By the way, this web­site has got its own info site about nor­t­hern lights, inclu­ding some nor­t­hern light pho­to tips from Rolf.

Heli­c­op­ter crash: wreck soon to be lifted

The wreck of the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter that cra­s­hed into Isfjord last week was iden­ti­fied on pho­tos taken by a dive robo­ter from the rese­arch ves­sel Ossi­an Sars. The MI-8 heli­c­op­ter is lying on the sea flo­or at a depth of 209 met­res in Isfjord, about 2 km from the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter base at Heerod­den clo­se to Barents­burg.

One body was found in a distance of 130 met­res to the wreck. It is alre­a­dy in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. The­re is no hope that any of the 8 peo­p­le in the heli­c­op­ter, 5 crew and 3 sci­en­tists, sur­vi­ved.

The Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ty for traf­fic dis­as­ters (Sta­tens hava­ri­kom­mis­jon for trans­port, SHT) is now in char­ge of fur­ther inves­ti­ga­ti­ons. A sal­va­ge ves­sel is expec­ted to arri­ve in Lon­gye­ar­by­en on Thurs­day. The uplif­ting ope­ra­ti­ons will start as soon as the ves­sel is in posi­ti­on at the acci­dent site. Rus­si­an spe­cia­lists are in Lon­gye­ar­by­en to sup­port the Nor­we­gi­an forces under Nor­we­gi­an lea­der­ship. When the wreck is lifted, it will be taken to the Nor­we­gi­an main­land for fur­ther inves­ti­ga­ti­ons. SHT is curr­ent­ly con­duc­ting inter­views with wit­nesses and coll­ec­ting various data inclu­ding wea­ther, the con­di­ti­on of the heli­c­op­ter, qua­li­fi­ca­ti­on of the crew and more.

Pho­to by a dive robo­ter of the rese­arch ves­sel Ossi­an Sars used to iden­ti­fy the wreck (image © G.O. Sars).

helicopter wreck.

Source: SHT

Kvaløya-Sen­ja – 30th Octo­ber 2017

We left from Trom­sø in good spi­rits in the ear­ly mor­ning and set cour­se to the north, through Kvalsund and to the outer side of Kvaløya, the lar­ge island west of Trom­sø. The first orca of the sea­son had been seen the­re a cou­ple of days ago, so the­re was reason to be opti­mi­stic.

We were the­re at the right time but not quite at the right place, they were cer­tain­ly some­whe­re, but not whe­re we were, so we did not see any wha­les. We saw stun­ning land­scape, rug­ged islands, some­ti­mes hid­den under snow show­ers, to re-appear then under quick­ly chan­ging but always ama­zing light. We crossed 70 degrees north, clo­se to San­døya, an island with some love­ly sand bea­ches and some lonely hou­ses. San­døya is sup­po­sed to have exact­ly one per­ma­nent inha­bi­tant.

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

Then we set a sou­t­her­ly cour­se and sails, and the bridge crew took us safe­ly through the sker­ries and rocks on the outer side of Kvaløya. We aban­do­ned the plan to fol­low the outer side of Sen­ja to Gryl­lefjord, it was just a bit too rough for that, and some had alre­a­dy sacri­fi­ced to King Nep­tu­ne, so we went into the chan­nels again and found good shel­ter bet­ween Sen­ja and the main­land and soon we went along­side in Gibostad for a calm night.

Trom­sø – 29th Octo­ber 2017

How do you see that the sum­mer is over? When Anti­gua is back in Trom­sø after seve­ral months in Spits­ber­gen. When the sun is going down under the hori­zon at 3 p.m. When you have to clean the snow away on deck 5 times a day. When you see a lot of old fri­ends from Spits­ber­gen along­side in the har­bour in Trom­sø: the Cape Race, the Polar­girl, the Auro­ra Explo­ra, they are all here. Good old Nor­der­licht is along­side Anti­gua.

The light comes and goes with the snow­show­ers, grey clouds alter­na­te with soft sun­light. Some­ti­mes the­re is no visi­bi­li­ty at all, some­ti­mes the colourful woo­den hou­ses are reflec­ted on the mir­ror-like water sur­face. Peo­p­le are coming to the ship through the snow one by one, han­ding bags and suit­ca­ses over befo­re they come on board. Then we are com­ple­te, pas­sen­gers and crew. We gather in the salong, wel­co­me on board! We talk about life on the ship and the plans for the upco­ming days and enjoy the first din­ner of the trip. Sascha has pre­pared sal­mon. Good stuff!

Gal­lery – Trom­sø – 29th Octo­ber 2017

Click on thumb­nail to open an enlar­ged ver­si­on of the spe­ci­fic pho­to.

After din­ner, we talk about nor­t­hern light pho­to­gra­phy and have a look at the came­ras. It is com­ple­te­ly clou­dy now, but we have got a who­le week, so the­re are very rea­li­stic chan­ces for a clear evening and then … fin­gers crossed!

Heli­c­op­ter crash: wreck found

The wreck of the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter that went miss­ing on Thurs­day after­noon is now most likely found. A ROV (Remo­te­ly Ope­ra­ted Vehic­le) of the Nor­we­gi­an Navy has loca­li­zed an object at a depth of 209 met­res on the sea flo­or that appears to be the wreck of the MI-8 heli­c­op­ter. The ROV named “Hugin” and ano­ther ROV of the rese­arch ves­sel Ossi­an Sars will con­ti­nue to gather data to iden­ti­fy the object and to find the miss­ing per­sons. The­re were 8 peo­p­le in the heli­c­op­ter when it cra­s­hed on Thurs­day. No traces of sur­vi­vors could be found.

The posi­ti­on is 2.2 kilo­me­t­res nor­the­ast of the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter base at Heerod­den clo­se to Barents­burg.

A Rus­si­an aero­pla­ne has brought divers and other spe­cia­lists from Rus­sia to Lon­gye­ar­by­en to take part in the ope­ra­ti­on under Nor­we­gi­an lea­der­ship.

Diving robo­ter Hugin of the Nor­we­gi­an navy sear­ching after the cra­s­hed heli­c­op­ter near Heerod­den.

Diving roboter Hugin close to Heerodden.

Sources: NRK, Sval­bard­pos­ten

Heli­c­op­ter­crash: litt­le hope to find sur­vi­vors

The­re is no cer­tain­ty yet if the object that was loca­ted by echo­lot in a depth of 200-250 met­res on the sea flo­or in Isfjord, not far from the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter base at Heerod­den clo­se to Barents­burg, actual­ly is the wreck of the heli­c­op­ter. But the­re is no doubt that the MI-8 heli­c­op­ter did crash into Isfjord yes­ter­day. As more than 20 hours have gone by sin­ce the crash and the­re is no trace yet of any sur­vi­vors, hopes to find any of the 8 peo­p­le on board are get­ting smal­ler and smal­ler and the worst has to be feared.

Names of the 8 per­sons on board were alre­a­dy yes­ter­day released by Rus­si­an media. Now, also the respon­si­ble Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ty, the Res­cue Cent­re North Nor­way, has released the names offi­ci­al­ly.

The per­sons on board the heli­c­op­ter were

Pas­sen­gers (Sci­en­tists of the Insti­tuts for Arc­tic and Ant­ar­c­tic Rese­arch in St. Peters­burg):
Oleg Golo­va­nov
Niko­laj Fade­jev
Mak­sim Kau­lio


Jev­ge­nij Bara­nov – Chief pilot
Vla­di­mir Fro­lov – Second pilot
Alek­sej Poul­jaus­kas – Mecha­nic
Marat Mikht­a­rov – Tech­ni­ci­an
Alek­sej Korol­jov – Engi­neer

The­re is hope until the oppo­si­te is pro­ven, and every effort is taken to con­ti­nue the search and find sur­vi­vors. Nor­we­gi­an SAR forces are on loca­ti­on with heli­c­op­ters, a spe­cial aero­pla­ne from the Nor­we­gi­an air­force, ships and boats. But the more time is going by, the more likely it seems that it is a tra­ge­dy wit­hout sur­vi­vors.

The Sys­sel­man­nen has estab­lished a cont­act pho­ne num­ber for rela­ti­ves and expres­ses deep sym­pa­thy with tho­se who are affec­ted. This is shared by the aut­hor of the­se lines, who­se thoughts and sym­pa­thy are also with tho­se who were in the heli­c­op­ter and their fami­ly, fri­ends and col­le­agues and all others who are invol­ved.

Accor­ding to inter­na­tio­nal law, Nor­we­gi­an aut­ho­ri­ties are respon­si­ble for the inves­ti­ga­ti­on of the acci­dent. A hava­ry com­mis­si­on is alre­a­dy in Lon­gye­ar­by­en and will soon start to gather all infor­ma­ti­on that is available. But curr­ent­ly, the effort to find sur­vi­vors and the heli­c­op­ter are still the focus of all efforts.

Rus­si­an MI-8 heli­c­op­ter at the air­port Lon­gye­ar­by­en (archi­ve image).

Russian airport Spitsbergen.

Source: Sys­sel­man­nen, Sval­bard­pos­ten

Cra­s­hed heli­c­op­ter pro­ba­b­ly found

The Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter that cra­s­hed on Thurs­day after­noon is pro­ba­b­ly found. Search-and-res­cue forces sen­sed a strong smell of fuel and saw air bubbles coming to the water sur­face at a cer­tain posi­ti­on in the area in ques­ti­on, in Isfjord, about 2-3 km from the heli­c­op­ter base at Heerod­den. A ship has found an object on the sea flo­or with the echo­lot that could be the wreck of the heli­c­op­ter or a part of it. This needs to be con­firm­ed, though. The depth is bet­ween 200 and 250 met­res, far bey­ond the reach of divers.

Alre­a­dy during the night, a diving robot (ROV = Remo­te­ly Ope­ra­ted Vehic­le) was brought from main­land Nor­way to Lon­gye­ar­by­en with a SAS pla­ne. The ROV will be ope­ra­ted at the alle­ged acci­dent site as soon as pos­si­ble. This has pro­ba­b­ly alre­a­dy hap­pen­ed at the time of wri­ting (08.30 local time on Fri­day mor­ning) or it may be going on right now.

The­re were 8 per­sons on board the heli­c­op­ter, and the search after sur­vi­vors is going on. SAR forces are sear­ching the near­by coast, east of Heerod­den. Heli­c­op­ters and ships are scan­ning the water. Accor­ding to all that is known, the worst has to be feared, but all efforts are taken to find sur­vi­vors. The Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter was of the type MI-8, which is equip­ped with a life raft and with lif­ting bodies that keep the heli­c­op­ter afloat at least for a while in case of a con­trol­led emer­gen­cy landing on the water sur­face. The fact that no emer­gen­cy signal was released by the crew makes it howe­ver doubtful that it was a con­trol­led emer­gen­cy landing. A sud­den, uncon­trol­led crash seems likely. Wit­nesses say they have heard a loud noi­se like a bang at the time in ques­ti­on.

Next to the 2 Nor­we­gi­an SAR heli­c­op­ters, the­re is a num­ber of ships and boats in the area: Polar­sys­sel (Sys­sel­man­nen), coast guard and boats from the tou­rism indus­try in Lon­gye­ar­by­en. Initi­al­ly, the visi­bi­li­ty was redu­ced by snow fall, but the wea­ther is by now quite good, with litt­le wind and clear visi­bi­li­ty. The polar night has begun a cou­ple of days ago, so even around noon, the sun remains below the hori­zon, making light very scar­ce.

Light con­di­ti­ons in Isfjord during the polar night around noon. The bright light is the moon. (Archi­ve image.)

Polar night, Isfjord.

Source: Sval­bard­pos­ten

Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter cra­s­hed near Barents­burg

The­re will be updates (see bot­tom end of this artic­le) as fur­ther infor­ma­ti­on beco­mes available.

A Rus­si­an MI-8 heli­c­op­ter cra­s­hed near Barents­burg and fell into the sea in Isfjord. The heli­c­op­ter was on the way from Pyra­mi­den to Barents­burg with 8 per­sons on board.

The emer­gen­cy call from the air­port tower Lon­gye­ar­by­en was recei­ved at 15.35 local time by the emer­gen­cy respon­se cent­re North Nor­way. Nor­we­gi­an search and res­cue (SAR) forces are on loca­ti­on with heli­c­op­ter and ships. The crash site is in the Isfjord, 2-3 kilo­me­t­res away from Heerod­den, the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ter base at Barents­burg.

No infor­ma­ti­on is curr­ent­ly available regar­ding the con­di­ti­on of the 8 per­sons on board. The­re is a bree­ze (7-8 m/s) and the visi­bi­li­ty is affec­ted by snow­fall.

Accor­ding to Nor­we­gi­an law, the Rus­si­an heli­c­op­ters in Spits­ber­gen are only allo­wed to fly for com­pa­ny pur­po­ses. Char­ter flights, for exam­p­le for film teams or sci­en­tists, are not per­mit­ted. This makes it likely that the 8 peo­p­le on board were employees of the owner of the heli­c­op­ter, Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol.

Update: next to the pilot (Bara­nov Evge­ny), co-pilot (Fro­lov Vla­di­mir), flight engi­neer (Alex­ei Pou­ly­aus­kas), a tech­ni­ci­an (Mihtar Marat), and an engi­neer (Koro­lev Alek­sey), the­re were 3 sci­en­tists of the Insti­tu­te for Arc­tic and Ant­ar­c­tic Rese­arch in St. Peters­burg on board: Golo­va­nov Oleg, Fade­ev Nicho­las, Kau­lio Mak­sim. The names were released in the Rus­si­an press.

Update: Dmit­rij Zjel­jaz­kov, direc­tor of Kon­vers Avia, the com­pa­ny that owns and ope­ra­tes the heli­c­op­ter, has told the Rus­si­an news agen­cy Tass that the 3 pas­sen­gers were miners of the Trust Ark­ti­ku­gol.

Rus­si­an MI-8 heli­c­op­ter at the air­port Lon­gye­ar­by­en (archi­ve image).

Russian airport Spitsbergen.

Source: NRK

Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018: fro­zen water­fall in Janu­ary

In the high arc­tic, Janu­ary is icy cold – usual­ly at least. Some­ti­mes, spells of mild air mas­ses from the Atlan­tic can bring tem­pe­ra­tures fluc­tua­ting around zero degrees and rain. That was not total­ly unknown in the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry eit­he, but it is cer­tain­ly more fre­quent in the times of cli­ma­te chan­ge. But nor­mal­ly, it is real­ly cold! The tem­pe­ra­tures will make every river and every water­fall free­ze solid.

The Janu­ary page of the Spits­ber­gen calen­dar 2018 shows the water­fall Hyperitt­fos­sen in De Geerd­a­len, about 20 km nor­the­ast of Lon­gye­ar­by­en as the ivo­ry gull flies. The water­mas­ses that fall down over basal­tic rock cliffs are quite impres­si­ve in the sum­mer. Now in the win­ter, the water is fro­zen to crea­te struc­tures like organ pipes. I used a rather extre­me 11 mm wide ang­le len­se to cap­tu­re the per­spec­ti­ve. It is not every year that the shapes of the fro­zen water­fall are so impres­si­ve: when I took this pan­ora­ma of Hyperitt­fos­sen some years ago, most of the icy struc­tures were hid­den under snow.

Spitsbergen-Calendar 2018: January. Frozen waterfall

Spits­ber­gen-Calen­dar 2018: Janu­ary. Fro­zen water­fall.

The Spits­ber­gen-calen­der 2018: nor­t­hern lights over Lon­gye­ar­by­en in Decem­ber

The nor­t­hern light is for the polar night what the polar bears are for the sum­mer: ever­y­bo­dy wants to see them. The nor­t­hern light, or Auro­ra borea­lis, is inde­ed a maje­s­tic phe­no­me­non! If you have ever seen a real one, you will for sure not for­get it. The­re is an info page about nor­t­hern lights and nor­t­hern light pho­to­gra­phy on this web­site, by the way. The sea­son is about to begin.

Actual­ly, Lon­gye­ar­by­en is not even the best place to see nor­t­hern lights. If you are on an Auro­ra mis­si­on, then nor­t­hern Scan­di­na­via may be just as good, if not bet­ter. But of cour­se you can see fan­ta­stic nor­t­hern lights in Spits­ber­gen! With some luck, you can even see then mid-day. This day­si­de auro­ra is com­pa­ra­tively rare, but they do hap­pen. Hard to belie­ve, but true! This requi­res real dark­ness 24 hours a day, and that is what you get in Lon­gye­ar­by­en from late Novem­ber to ear­ly Janu­ary.

The Decem­ber-pho­to of our Spits­ber­gen-calen­dar 2018 was taken ear­ly evening. We went around in Lon­gye­ar­by­en with a TV team and they wan­ted norhtern lights – of cour­se. Ris­ky busi­ness if you don’t have more time than just a very few days! May­be you are lucky, may­be not … both the wea­ther and the auro­ra acti­vi­ty have to be on your side. We had alre­a­dy been around for a long evening wit­hout see­ing more than dark clouds. A day later, things were more pro­mi­sing. And sud­den­ly, the sky explo­ded over Lon­gye­ar­by­en! It was inde­ed one of my bet­ter Auro­ra moments in Spits­ber­gen. The pho­to does not even show the stron­gest nor­t­hern light of that evening, but Lady Auro­ra was dancing abo­ve this part of the ico­nic coal cable­way and Pla­tå­ber­get, a very cha­rac­te­ristic and well-known moun­tain right next to Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Spitsbergen-Calender 2018: December. Northern light above Longyearbyen

Spits­ber­gen-Calen­der 2018: Decem­ber. Nor­t­hern light abo­ve Lon­gye­ar­by­en.

Born in Sau­na: Alex­an­der Lembke’s Sau­na exhi­bi­ti­on ope­ned in Tam­pe­re

Alex­an­der Lembke is well known to many who have tra­vel­led with us in recent years in Spits­ber­gen. Many have heard about his pro­ject of sci­ence, pho­to­gra­phy and prac­ti­cal use of the Fin­nish sau­na.

Now, the pro­ject has rea­ched a (preli­mi­na­ry) cli­max: the exhi­bi­ti­on “Sau­na Syn­ty­neet (Born in Sau­na)” was ope­ned on Fri­day, Octo­ber 13, in Tam­pe­re in Fin­land. The exhi­bi­ti­on was sup­port­ed by orga­niza­ti­ons inclu­ding the Goe­the-Insti­tut, the town of Tam­pe­re and the Fin­nish Sau­na Socie­ty. Their repre­sen­ta­ti­ves were pre­sent at the ope­ning and held spea­ches.

Alexander’s work is about the important role of sau­na in Fin­nish cul­tu­re, histo­ry and socie­ty. The cur­rent exhi­bi­ti­on is about peo­p­le who were actual­ly born in a sau­na. A sau­na is regu­lar­ly hea­ted and clea­ned and it is a place of spi­ri­tua­li­ty, which altog­e­ther makes it a place well sui­ted of events such as giving birth. Peo­p­le were born in sau­na in Fin­land also in recent years, also it is much less com­mon than in the more distant past. The exhi­bi­ti­on shows lar­ge por­traits of peo­p­le who were born in sau­na. In poe­tic films, they tell their sto­ries about their indi­vi­du­al rela­ti­onship to the sau­na and their sau­na ritu­als. The youn­gest per­son por­trai­ted in the exhi­bi­ti­on is 5 years old now, the oldest one is 102! Some of the­se peo­p­le, who were born in sau­na, were pre­sent during the ope­ning.

If you hap­pen to come to Tam­pe­re until Novem­ber 24, 2017, then you have got the oppor­tu­ni­ty to visit the exhi­bi­ti­on “Sau­na­s­sa Syn­ty­neet (Born in Sau­na)”.

Alex­an­der Lembke during the ope­ing of the exhi­bi­ti­on “Sau­na­s­sa Syn­ty­neet (Born in Sau­na)” on Fri­day in Tam­pe­re.

Exhibition Saunassa Syntyneet (Born in Sauna), Alexander Lembke, Tampere.


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