The huge sun mirrors of Rjukan shed light on the town

Rjukan is a small town that is located in Norway and there are many mountains in Norway. As the town is situated at the bottom of a rather deep valley at the bottom of the Gaustatoppen Mountain it means that for around 6 months out of the year the town is put in the shade. From September to March the residents of the town are left in the shade as the mountain blocks the sun out. An ingenious solution however means that residents can catch a bit of sun, as huge sun mirrors have been installed.


[Image Courtesy of AmusingPlanet]

A small patch of sunlight shines down on the market square of the town since 2013 when the sunlight mirrors were erected. The light comes from three heliostatic mirrors by the name of Solspeil, which were installed on the side of the mountain around 450 meters above the square of the town.


[Image Courtesy of AmusingPlanet]

The mirrors are able to capture the sunlight which doesn’t make it down onto the square and then direct it into the square. The mirrors are able to illuminate around 600 square metres and they are controlled by computers.


[Image Courtesy of EPA]

This allows them to be able to track the sun as it moves across the sky. The mirrors move every 10 seconds and this ensures that the residents get sunlight in the square for the length of the day.


The plans for the mirrors were made more than 100 years ago but the idea never came to fruition as during that time the technology didn’t exist to put the idea to work. So instead a gondola was designed in 1928 and this used to transport the people of the town up the mountain so that they could get some sunlight. This still remains in use today, taking people 500 meters up the mountain.


The revival of the idea for the light mirrors came in 2005 when Martin Anderson heard about a sports stadium in Arizona that was partially covered and which used mirrors to help with growing the grass. A village in Italy also managed to use sun mirrors to reflect the sun into their village and this too was situated among mountains that cast shadows.

Anderson got the money needed for him to develop the idea further and $851,000 was raised to ensure that the sun mirrors came to life.


Via [AmusingPlanet]