The Green Flash of the Sun

Discuss

35 Responses to “The Green Flash of the Sun”

  1. dr80085 says:

    I have seen green in the extended sunrise from a plane flying westwards somewhere over eastern Europe. The sun was still far below the horizon, the earth was black, there were very few clouds, and the colours of the sky rose from deep red, orange, GREEN, blue before fading to black. I had never seen the thin line of green before while flying, but it was definitely there, and lasted for a good 15 minutes.

    At the time I was too embarrassed to ask the guy next to me if he saw the green glow too, since we were flying into Amsterdam. Refreshing to find out these things are real and I wasn’t experiencing some freaky flashforward.

  2. Cranefly says:

    If we’re listing green flash references in art, Joan Aiken’s “The Green Flash” is where I first heard about the phenomenon.

  3. Mista Spakuru says:

    If you like this kind of stuff, this is the book you want to read:

    The Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena by William Corliss

    Ball lightning, raining fish, 100-ft waves, yes!

  4. Anonymous says:

    “I’m going to be in San Diego this February for the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Are there good places I should go for prime green-flash watching?”

    Pacific Beach. It needs to be a very clear, warm day.

    For extra theme fun, you might try the Green Flash Restaurant:

    http://www.greenflashrestaurant.com/

    and drink a Green Flash IPA:

    http://www.greenflashbrew.com/

    AND DON’T STARE AT THE SUN!!!!!!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I first read about this in Lyall Watson’s book Gifts of Unknown Things. It’s pretty fascinating.

  6. Takashi Omoto says:

    Jules Verne uses this phenomenon as the McGuffin
    in his novel “Le Rayon Vert”, where a group of people go looking for this elusive effect, and are constantly missing it. Sure enough, by the time they actually make it in time, the heroes have fallen in love and ignore it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve seen the green flash, at sea in the Pacific mostly. It’s fast, you need to be looking out for it, it’s momentarily bright & impossible to photograph.

  8. obdan says:

    I’ve seen so many of these that they bore me now. I’m kidding, but I have seen a few now. In San Diego everyone anticipates them daily. We also have a brewery named after the phenomena. Sunset watching is a big pastime. Wikipedia has some great photos of them.

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      I’m going to be in San Diego this February for the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Are there good places I should go for prime green-flash watching?

  9. obdan says:

    Maggie Koerth-Baker

    I would recommend Sunset Cliffs of course, because it is crazy pretty. Moonlight Beach in Encinitas is beautiful too. Wind and Sea near LaJolla is my favorite, gosh there are so many wonderful beaches. Enjoy!

  10. Marshall says:

    My office overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and in the decade that I’ve worked there I’ve managed to catch two sunsets accompanied by green flashes. Both were sudden, unexpected and kind of mindblowing.

  11. RexallWodehouse says:

    The green flash is a sort of a holy grail for those who live on or near the water — a magic prism seen only if the conditions are just right and you are very, very patient, and you don’t blink as the top of the disk of the sun drops below the horizon.

    Gives me goosebumps every time I see one (have only seen a few!)– but it’s also a very good excuse to stop whatever you’re doing and watch the sun set. The perfect conditions usually include an unimpeded view of the horizon (preferably over water) and a clear day, even though the photo above looks like it was pretty hazy. A rum drink in hand is an excellent accompaniment.

    Folks gather in hordes in Florida to watch for the green flash, too — and even if there’s no green flash, a spectacular sunset usually results in a round of applause from the watchers.

  12. Bevatron Repairman says:

    As I recall, it wasn’t until about 1960 that it was actually caught on film. I ran across a scientific american article on from the early 1960s when I was looking for something else.

  13. Mithras says:

    The Sun itself does not turn partly green …

    I can’t believe it was necessary to explain that to people.

  14. Mazoola says:

    As a kid growing up on the East Coast who spent 4 to 5 months a year at the beach, I had a serious case of Left Coast envy. It was particularly bad because back then it was thought the flash resulted from the sun’s rays momentarily passing through a massive amount of sea water right at the horizon; as a result, it was said the flash could only be seen at places where the ocean floor fell away rather sharply — which it does *not* do immediately offshore North Carolina’s barrier islands. Even after I moved to the Bay Area, I expected I’d have to travel to Monterey or points further South to find that magic blend of deep water, clear skies, late afternoon sun, and cozy beach-front drinking establishments.

    It wasn’t until a few years ago I read a more up-to-date description of the phenomenon and discovered that not only wasn’t the presence of deep water an essential ingredient, the presence of *any* water wasn’t, as well. Curious whether I might be able to witness a green flash locally at Ocean Beach or Sutro Baths, I Googled “green flash” “san francisco.”

    Imagine my surprise when the first few hits (back then) all linked to photographs taken overlooking *not* the Pacific but the Bay — including one taken where Dwight Way deadends at the Amtrak line… or, in other words, roughly 500 feet from the loft where I’d lived the previous 3 years.

  15. dargaud says:

    I have plenty of pics of the green flash taken in Antarctica (where it sometimes lasts for 45 minutes): http://www.gdargaud.net/Antarctica/AstroAntar.html

  16. Piers W says:

    The Green Ray (Le Rayon Vert) by Eric Rohmer. Amazing film. You don’t get to see the green ray, but you get to see someone seeing it (maybe).

  17. Bevatron Repairman says:

    @9: I’d love to see those, but your link seems off.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Green refracts more than red. This is also why sunsets are red while the sky is normally blue. The green flash occurs because you are looking at something very brightly red that disappears and so the “leftovers” look green in comparison. It is an optical illusion. The only way this could happen is if the sun reflected off the earth somewhere beyond the horizon and then reflected back off the atmosphere towards your viewing location.

  19. Multifarious says:

    @dargaud: wow, some brilliant pictures you made there! Now I’m green too *envy*

  20. Anonymous says:

    I believe these are called sundogs?

  21. Anonymous says:

    Venice, Florida, March 1987, I was casually watching the sunset with my son and their it was, the Green Flash! The retired guy next to us said he had seen it twice in 20 years and this was his #2. Clear skies and low humidity were the rule that day with a temperature in the low 80′s, light wind. The Gulf of Mexico is quite shallow in that area. Savor it if you see it.

  22. glurpo says:

    @#13 Anonymous: If it’s an “optical illusion,” why is it photograph-able?

  23. strangefriend says:

    A FLASH OF GREEN a 1984 movie based on a Ross macDonald novel, references this phenomena. The movie is about a Florida reporter in a small coastal town who agrees to help a county commissioner sabotage the opposition to development plans by digging up dirt on each of the opponents, & then comes to regret his decision. ‘A flash of green’ in the movie refers to a recollection by an old woman the reporter knows of the time she was in the Everglades fishing with her husband’s partner & they see the sun do this. It’s a metaphor for lost things: people, ways of life, etc.

  24. strangefriend says:

    A FLASH OF GREEN a 1984 movie based on a Ross macDonald novel, references this phenomena. The movie is about a Florida reporter in a small coastal town who agrees to help a county commissioner sabotage the opposition to development plans by digging up dirt on each of the opponents, & then comes to regret his decision. ‘A flash of green’ in the movie refers to a recollection by an old woman the reporter knows of the time she was in the Everglades fishing with her husband’s partner & they see the sun do this. It’s a metaphor for lost things: people, ways of life, etc.

  25. Axx says:

    CELEBRATE DIFFRACTION!

  26. Anonymous says:

    @18,
    wrong author, the novel that film is based on was written by the prolific John D. MacDonald.

  27. Anonymous says:

    A Flash of Green was written by John D. MacDonald, a much better writer than Ross…

  28. Anonymous says:

    I saw one of these in Hokitika, NZ earlier this year. It was a strangely serene phenomenon.

    A bunch of strangers had stopped to watch the sun setting. When the flash occurred we all looked at each other as if to say “Did you see that?” then went on our way(s)

  29. Anonymous says:

    I live in San diego. Ocean Beach Pier and Sunset Cliffs are great spots to see the flash. I have over 30 photographs of the Green and Blue Flash.

Leave a Reply