The Polar Bear Society, Hammerfest & Polar lights

Hammerfest greeted us with nice weather and many interesting things to discover and to learn about like the Struve Geodetic Arc. The nights held another delight when the polar lights illuminated the sky.

Already the night before we reached Hammerfest, we saw our first polar lights which was very exciting. We had been waiting already as we knew the conditions were good although it was early in autumn to see them. And suddenly the green light appeared and began to meander over the sky – fascinating!

Our first stop in Hammerfest was at the Meridian column which marks the northernmost measure point of the Struve Geodetic Arc which allowed the first accurate measurement of a meridian. Measurements were made in the form of a chain of triangulation along the meridian stretching from Hammerfest in the North to the Black Sea in the South over 2,820 km. The chain was established and used in the years 1816 to 1855 by the Baltic German astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm von Struve from Tartu, Estonia to establish the exact size and shape of the earth. At that time, the chain passed merely through two countries: the Union of Sweden-Norway and the Russian Empire. Nowadays it leads through ten countries.

Hammerfest not only has a polar bear in its flag but also the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society which runs a nice museum. You only can become a member of the society, if you come to Hammerfest in person.

Cod fish and the head of the cod are drying on wooden racks which you see a lot along the coast. Nowadays Nigeria is the main buyer of the dried heads which they use to prepare a soup.

Another member of the Polar Bear Society!

The ice-free harbour of Hammerfest was an important gate to the North and a starting point for many expeditions to the pole. Over decades ships left from here to hunt for the sought after seals in the Artic. Today the Hurtingrouten stops here and a gas pipeline ends at the island in front of the harbour.

Hammerfest has a long history as trading port and settlement, but over time it was completely destroyed by a fire and again by the retreating Germans in WW2. Every time the people of Hammerfest built the town up again. The modern church was consecrated in 1961 and has a nice atmosphere.

Kvalsund Bridge connects Kvaløya island and Hammerfest to the mainland
Finding a good spot needs some effort
Cleaning the windows to have a good view at night

And here it was again – the aurora borealis illuminating the sky at night. It was fascinating to watch the movements of the colourful pattern caused by solar wind disturbing the magnetosphere of the earth. What might people have thought about it before you could look it up in Wikipedia?

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