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With Mirrors Perched Atop Mountains, Norwegian Town Says Let There Be Light

Why suffer through five months of darkness when you can beam the sun's light into the town square?

A Norwegian town has decided it's had enough of winter darkness. To prepare for the five months of gloom that lie ahead, a public project utilizing mirrors will illuminate the town center, bringing in a ray of sunshine through clever positioning of mirrors.

Surrounded by mountains, Rjukan, about 100 miles west of Oslo, lives in the shadows from September to March. To build an artificial sun, the town has used a helicopter to deliver about 100 square meters of mirrors that will be placed and angled on nearby mountaintops to redirect the sun's light to the town square. Officials say the public space "will become a sunny meeting place in a town otherwise in a shadow."

The idea is to keep the Mirror Project, which will cost 5 million kroner (US$835,000) and rely on solar and wind energy, as a permanent installation, and the first system test is scheduled for September. In 2006, Viganella, a village in Italy, took on a similar project, using brushed steel as a reflective surface to bring sunlight into the town.

[Image: Visit Norway, Flickr user Kiyonobu Ito]