The small Norwegian town of Rjukan is getting its own artificial sun this month. Engineers are completing The Mirror Project—a system of three 300 square foot heliostatic mirrors that redirect winter light into the valley, turning one of the biggest town squares into a sunny meeting place. The entire mechanism is controlled by a central computer that adjusts the position of the mirrors.
Three huge mirrors were installed on the face of a neighboring mountain a few days ago that will redirect the sun down onto the town. The light will create a 2,000-square-foot circle on the town square which is usually in shadow. Costing less than a million dollars, the Mirror Project will bring light to the Norwegian town which is, from September until the end of March, in near perpetual darkness.
The idea of having a system of mirrors that light up the town can be traced back to industrialist Sam Eyde. As a technically less demanding alternative, he envisioned a cable car that would bring the people out of the dark valley for at least a few hours on weekends. Eyde’s idea of artificially illuminating the town was brought to life nearly a century later, with a state-of-the-art heliostatic system that can chase away dark Nordic winters.
This is not the first artificial sun built in Europe-a small Italian town in the Alps called Viganella installed a 26-foot-wide mirror on an adjacent mountain slope in 2006. Heliostatic systems were also built in the Austrian town of Rattenberg around the same time.
Images by Karl Martin Jakobsen via Visit Rjukan