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Lights out!

So, as I keep banging on about, tonight’s the night when all the streetlights in Reykjavík and beyond will be turned off for half an hour to allow us to enjoy that commodity so precious in our light-saturated cities: darkness.*

All the communities in the southern Faxaflói bay area, including Keflavík/Reykjanesbær, the Greater Reykjavík Area, and Akranes, will participate. It will be lights out from 10 to 10.30 and people are being urged to turn off their lights at home as well. Traffic lights will not be affected [thankfully!] and yes, police will be stepping up law enforcement to some degree.

This brilliant idea came from the organizers of the Reykjavík International Film Festival which kicks off today. In their words, ‘the greatest movie screen of all is the sky’ and they’re out to prove it. We were hoping for clear skies and – in the best of all possible worlds – northern lights, but alas it looks as though that will not come to pass. Still – they said the weather was going to be misearable and rainy and whathaveyou, and right now at 3 pm it’s really quite pleasant – just a bit of wind, no rain, and even blue patches in the [mostly cloudy] sky.

Personally I’m superexcited about the idea and can’t wait. Read a blog post earlier by someone who bah-humbugs the whole thing and says she’s going to turn up her house lights as bright as possible tonight because she can’t see why they have to turn off a whole city when you can get the same effect by driving 15 minutes out. Not the point! For me the point is precisely being able to stay in the city and to see it in a different light – darkness. With the stars up above.

Temps 14°C. Sunrise 07.27, sunset 19.08. And a new season of The Sopranos starts on telly tonight.

*Although you might ask why Iceland, with its imminent onset of SAD, might go to such lengths to actually add to the dark, and you would have a valid point. Probably we’re all masochists.

[PS. Although this is a fairly upbeat post, this is a sad day for Iceland. This morning they started filling the Hálsalón reservoir that will fill up to feed the Kárahnjúkavirkjun dam, thereby submerging 57 square kilometers of land. Waterfalls will shut down, one after the other, and beautiful landscapes, including wildlife habitat, will be lost. Insanity.

UPDATE: clearly not everyone is aware of the controversy surrounding the Alcoa/dam project – I did a post here and there’s a fairly good Time Magazine article here.]