Reykjavik Council switches off city lights to provide clear view of Northern Lights to residents

Reykjavik Council switches off city lights to provide clear view of Northern Lights to residents

On Wednesday night, Reykjavik council switched off the lights in the city centre and many other districts from 22:00 local time. Main aim behind the move was to lessen the light pollution so that the capital's residents are able to enjoy the Aurora Borealis, one of the most impressive views of the sky.

The Icelandic Met Office’s website shared that in order to have a clear view of the northern lights there is a need of dark and partly clear skies. It was predicted that the event would start at around 9 or 10pm. According to it, the council planned a blackout for an hour to be started at 10pm.

But the show started late and the lights were kept off until midnight. The Icelandic police provided clear instructions to people as to how they can watch the northern lights. The police even warned not to watch the event in the middle of the street or in a car parked on the roadside.

Those who have viewed the event shared that the lights were quite strong in the last two nights. Some have even captured the images and same were shared on social media websites. Experts have shared that the northern lights are produced when electrically charged particles from the sun enter earth’s atmosphere and collide.

The northern lights have been showing up in the sky in Iceland for past many days. In fact, the light show on Monday has been found to be better than that of Wednesday.

“Switching off the street lights was a great gesture by the city council... I hope this will be done more often as it was very successful, especially for those who were patient enough to wait for the lights to appear”, affirmed astronomy educator SaeverHelgiBragason.

According to a report in NY Times by PAULINE BOCK, "Reykjavik went dark Wednesday night, after the City Council switched off street lamps and encouraged residents to turn off their lights. The goal: To get light pollution to a minimum in order to provide the best possible viewing conditions for a particularly intense display of the aurora borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights."

The lights had been predicted to appear around 9 or 10 p.m., so the city had sought to impose the blackout for an hour, starting at 10 p.m. But the show was slow to start, and the lights were kept off until midnight. The Icelandic police had warned people watching the lights to be careful, emphasizing the dangers of observing the phenomenon while in the middle of the street or in a car parked on the roadside.

“The lights were really strong in the last two nights. It was unbelievable,” said Florian Schade, 18, from Hamburg, Germany, who has been living in Iceland for two months and working at a bed-and-breakfast in Keflavik, in the south.

A report published in BBC said, "Reykjavik council announced that street lighting would be switched off for an hour in the city centre and several other districts from 22:00 local time, in order to cut out the light pollution that can hamper sky-watching. It also encouraged the capital's residents to join in by turning off their lighting at home."

The city has witnessed some spectacular displays in recent days, as this video by astronomy educator Saever Helgi Bragason shows. It's thanks to the Earth being in the path of the solar wind - a stream of charged particles escaping from the Sun. "It's quite similar to a garden sprinkler, and we're currently inside a stream," Mr Bragason tells the BBC. The aurora appears when the particles interact with Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere.

"Switching off the street lights was a great gesture by the city council... I hope this will be done more often as it was very successful, especially for those who were patient enough to wait for the lights to appear," he says. "It also encouraged more people to go out and look up to the night sky, which is great!"

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