As you may know, I went to see the eclipse last week – to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in the Arctic Circle (78 deg N 15 deg E).  Svalbard is a group of islands, including Spitsbergen, that is now independent but used to be part of Norway (and still uses the kroner). It was cold.  The warmest day was -14 C and the coldest -21C (although it got down to -24 during the eclipse itself).  -21 C is -6 F.

So what did I learn?

  1. Just because it looks like a nice sunny day, it doesn’t mean it’s warmer than the day before.
  2. On no account go out of the door without doing up your jacket(s) and putting your hat and gloves on.  Your fingers can freeze before they complete the other manoeuvres.
  3. Every time you go outside, prepare for it as if it was for the rest of the day.  You never know how fast things will change.
  4. If you think you might need something, take it with you.
  5. Even if you are just crossing the road to go for your breakfast, no 3 still applies.
  6. Always take your camera.  And always tuck it somewhere inside your jacket.  You never know when a reindeer is going to be nosing round the trash cans offering you a photo opportunity.
  7. Do not place any part of your skin on any metal object.
  8. If your fingers won’t work, don’t try to turn your camera off with your nose, tongue, or any other part of you.  Just because it’s plastic doesn’t mean it won’t freeze you.
  9. Gel hand warmers solidify if not kept in inside pockets until you need them.  Darn lot of use they were.  They don’t unsolidify once you get them in a warm room, either.  In fact they are still solid after three days back in the UK.
  10. Whatever they say about brandy, it doesn’t freeze even sat on the ice at -21C for three hours.  That’s more than you can say for just about anything else – including our resident scientist’s camera.

Watch out for more words of wisdom for my E post during the A to Z challenge, but meanwhile here are some non-eclipse photos 🙂

photos copyright J M Pett

10 things I learnt in the Arctic
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11 thoughts on “10 things I learnt in the Arctic

  • 24 March, 2015 at 7:05 am

    I should think everyone talks with typewriter teeth over there in those temperatures. You’re braver than me.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • 24 March, 2015 at 9:46 am

      I got incredibly nervous about going and didn’t know how I was going to cope. But if you wore enough, and had enough around your neck and ears, it was great – no worse than skiing 🙂

      The two days we had to try our layering strategies out were good though!

  • 24 March, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Hmmm. Sounds like torture to me! I think I will stay here, and just enjoy your pictures! 😉

    • 24 March, 2015 at 9:47 am

      No, it truly was wonderful. As they say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!

  • 24 March, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Wonderful! I have wanted to go there ever since reading Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights 20 years ago. Some day I’ll make it – looking froward to E.

    • 24 March, 2015 at 9:48 am

      I’d drafted it before I went – just awaiting photos. The experience is something else, though, and I’ll have to re-write it!

  • 24 March, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Nice! I particularly like #8 and and intrigued by #10.

    The photo of the 22degree halo with the sun still behind the ridge is great.

    • 25 March, 2015 at 3:33 pm

      I was fishing for a tenth – then thought of two more afterwards!

  • 24 March, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go there, but right now, at the end of winter, I’ll pass. Sounds challenging and amazing.

    • 25 March, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      I’d love to go back in late summer – August – after the crowds have gone. Apparently they get lots of cruise ships putting in during June and July (I’d hate that) and also I don’t need to see the midnight sun as I prefer some sleep at night!

  • 29 March, 2015 at 5:29 am

    Great pictures! I’m jealous, haven’t seen a total solar eclipse yet and haven’t been to the Arctic Circle either. I’m looking forward to seeing your eclipse pictures!

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