What is the polar night?

The polar night occurs when the sun doesn’t rise over the horizon for a period of time, which effectively means that it’s always night.

Polar night only occurs in areas inside the polar circle. In Utsjoki, the northernmost municipality of Finland, the polar night (or in Finnish kaamos) lasts for almost two months. In Sodankylä, (located near the arctic circle) the polar night lasts for four days.

Although the polar night is the darkest period of the year, it is rarely pitch-black. Finnish Lapland is located near the polar circle which means that during the polar night, whilst the sun stays below the horizon and therefore there is no sunrise, sunlight does still reach the upper layers of the atmosphere which allows some ambient light through. A blue twilight is typical for the polar night in the northern parts of Finland. The moon can light up the sky and the snow reflects its light. One can also see the multi-coloured northern lights dancing across the firmament. The sun also appears near the arctic circle during the polar nights as the atmosphere reflects light, allowing the sun to be seen on the horizon.

In the southern parts of Finland there is no official polar night, but the days are still short. For example, in Helsinki the length of the shortest day of the year is less than six hours. In fact, in the southern parts of the country where it does not always snow, it can feel even darker because there is no light reflected from the white snow.

What is the Polar Night Counter?

The Polar Night Counter counts down the days to the winter solstice.

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year. After the winter solstice days gradually get longer until the darkness of winter stops. Days and nights go back to normal on the spring equinox. The reverse of the winter solstice is the summer solstice; which is the longest day of the year.

In locations where the polar night occurs, the counter will show you its duration.