Quite by chance one of the best places in the world to see the much talked about total solar eclipse was the small Arctic island I currently called home. As I’m sure most people would agree this was an exciting, probably once in a lifetime, opportunity to see something quite phenomenal. Something that reminds us how small and vulnerable we actually are on this planet. I have to admit thought by the time March 20th arrived I was feeling a little jaded about it. There were stories of huge groups of people who had booked trips to Svalbard 7 years in advance, rumours of more flights coming in than places to stay. The supermarket had security guards on the door and the university remained locked all day. Anyone who has ever attended the Solfestuka (celebrating the return of the sun to Longyearbyen) will know the weather doesn’t always behave as you would like and there contingencies being discussed as to what to do with all these people should a blizzard hit.
Actually all the concern was unfounded, March 20th dawned a perfect Arctic day. The short walk from my office out into the valley was breathtaking. I have to admit I’ve never seen so many people in Adventdalen but being the Arctic it wasn’t hard to find your own solitary spot to watch everything unfold.
After what seemed like a longtime taking scenic photographs and people watching I put on my eclipse glasses and realised it had already begun. What followed I can only describe as magical, it started to get darker and then just before the total eclipse waves of shadow and sparkle seemed to radiate across the ice and snow.
Looking back away from spectacle as the sun began to come back was a beautiful sunrise sky.