Oct. 22 - Three giant mirrors have been erected on a mountainside in Norway, to bring much needed sunlight to residents of a small town. The town is situated at the bottom of a narrow valley where the sun doesn't shine during the long Nordic winter, but its hoped the mirrors will change all that and bring its residents out of the shade and into the light. Jim Drury reports.
At this time of year the hills surrounding the Norwegian town of Rjukan are bathed in glorious sunshine. Although down below...it's dark For six months of the year the sun never shines on Rjukan, leaving its residents in a state of perpetual shade. But not for much longer. Local artist Martin Andersen headed a campaign to fund three giant mirrors to reflect the Sun's rays from the mountain top, into the town square. They've just been installed and tested, and are about to be turned on for the winter. SOUNDBITE (Norwegian) ARTIST AND TOWN RESIDENT MARTIN ANDERSEN, WHO LAUNCHED THE IDEA OF THE SUN MIRRORS, SAYING: "These are three heliostats that have been erected to beam the sun down to the Rjukan square as a kind of a health project to promote the well-being of the people in the shade." The mirrors measure 51 square metres and are designed to reflect sunshine into a broad, elliptical pool of bright light. Each mirror is guided wirelessly by a computer programme that follows the sun's path. Project manager Oystein Haugan says the mirrors are already lighting up the lives of Rjukan's 3,000 residents. SOUNDBITE (English) OYSTEIN HAUGAN, SUN MIRROR PROJECT MANAGER IN TINN MUNICIPALITY SAYING: "They say 'hurrah', this is a nice idea' when we now have the sun down to the town square people are coming here, they're taking pictures, they're laughing and have a good time." Until now, residents have relied on a cable-car to take them up the mountain for a dose of natural light. But now, local officials think the mirrors promise residents a far brighter future.