Svalbard After Dark

The following is a sponsored destination post brought to you by Private Jet Charters.

In November 2012, a total solar eclipse will clip some islands along the northern coast of Australia.  After that, the next chance to experience a total eclipse will be on March 20, 2015 in the Faroe Islands, Svalbard, and the North Pole.  Trips to the North Pole are available to civilians and it would be amazing to see a total solar eclipse from the North Pole.  Unfortunately such trips cost about $20,000.

I will be in Svalbard for the solar eclipse.  Svalbard is an archipelago north of, and possessed by, Norway.  Spitsbergen is the main and only inhabited island.  Longyearbyen is the capital and largest settlement.

I have already witnessed one eclipse in Shanghai in 2009.  There, I saw half of the event before rainclouds moved in and obscured the view.  Svalbard, with its cold-induced clear skies, will be ideal for not only a total solar eclipse, but heavens-watching in general.  It is said that Svalbard is the world’s best location for catching a glimpse of the rare daytime aurora.

Flights within Norway are operated by SAS.  The eclipse is on a Friday so it is convenient that flights between Oslo and Longyearbyen are cheapest on Thursdays.  The least expensive flight option would be to spend a full week in Longyearbyen, Thursday to Thursday.

Most flights to Longyearbyen go through Tromso, which is worth stopping to visit for at least a day or two.  In the 19th century, Tromso was known as “the Paris of the North.”  Today, it is known for its techno music scene, stunning vistas, and the distinctive Arctic Cathedral.  Perhaps more importantly, Tromso is in the middle of the Aurora Borealis zone.  Catching sight of the Northern Lights is quite possible in Oslo, but in Tromso your odds are 50-50 on a night in March.

Flights aren’t booked more than a year in advance and things change.  It is possible that more flights will be scheduled to accommodate the increased demand.  Then again, perhaps not, since hotel accommodations will be limited.  There are several small lodges.  The only full size hotel (and the northernmost in the world) is the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen.  They are very aware of the upcoming event.  Rooms are already in high demand and could become difficult to find soon.  As far as the flights go, you can check back with SAS in 2014 or with Private Jets Charter.

There is plenty to keep you busy in Svalbard during a visit to witness the solar eclipse. For example, you can go dog sledding, tour a coal mine, or visit a few of the museums. Animal lovers will enjoy catching a glimpse of seals, whales, reindeer and polar bears.

March 2015 may seem far away at the moment, but the total solar eclipse will be here before you know it – it never hurts to plan ahead!

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