It's True: The Sun Really Does Flash Green
How to See the Green Flash
The "Green Flash", also known as the "Green Ray", is a visual phenomenon that occurs at sunset. It is considered good luck in some cultures to see the green flash; others see it as a more foreboding omen. Whatever your view, it is a brief but memorable sight but you have to be quite lucky to see it. Follow the steps outlined here to increase your chances.
Understand the phenomenon of the green flash.The green flash phenomenon arises as by-products in astronomical refraction near the horizon, and most green flashes are the by-product of mirages (see images of some below).It's elusive because the atmospheric conditions required to produce the green flash don't happen that commonly, and require a well-layered atmosphere that allows the index of refraction to increase without interruption toward the surface of the Earth. Unfortunately, the atmosphere is usually experiencing turbulence of differing temperature and humidity levels across the layers.In plainer English, you need a near perfect clear horizon for the green ray phenomenon to appear.
- Pollution or haze will prevent clear or any sighting of the green ray.
- Clouds hanging over the horizon can mar the chances of seeing the green flash.
Choose your location.Despite the atmospheric conditions being less conducive to seeing a green flash, if you know where to look from, you've a much greater chance of seeing a green flash than insisting on trying to see it from just any old spot. The green flash can only be seen over a distant horizon that has a distinct edge to it. This makes the ocean the best place to view the green flash from, at or as close as possible to, sea level. It is also possible to see the green flash over land provided the horizon is distant enough.
- Hawaii is one of the best locations for viewing the green flash.The Caribbean is another well-known location for spotting a green flash.
- The top of a mountain, a tall building, a balloon or aircraft, are all suitable places for creating the distant horizon needed for seeing the green flash.Pilots and airplane passengers often report seeing the green flash from the air.
Choose the right time.The green flash can only be seen at the very moment that the sun dips below the horizon at sunset, or when the sun first rises above the horizon at sunrise. This makes it tricky because blink and you'll miss it but if you look too soon, the sun will dazzle you and prevent you from seeing it.
Locate the place where the sun will set or rise.You can use an almanac to figure out where the sun will appear in the sky. Sunset tends to be easier to locate than sunrise because you already know where the sun is positioned and given you've only got a brief moment to find the green flash, knowing the position matters!
- Position yourself so that you're looking directly at the setting sun. Keep your eyes averted from the sun, however, until only the very top of the sun is left on the horizon. Do not stare at the sun itself.
Wait until the last part of the sun appears to be touching the horizon.
Watch for a flash, flicker, or brief glow of bright green light.It will appear on "top" of the sun just as the sun appears to slide below the horizon. It may also appear as a green glow on the horizon just as the sun has set. Don't expect a huge "flash"; the color seen can be very small and hard to discern. To help you know what you're looking for, check photos and visual simulations of the green ray in online images.Some different sightings of a green flash in photos:
- As the sun sets, a small green flash (mirage) appears at the top portion of the setting sun.
- More of the mirage.
- Sighting of a green flash.
- Another sighting of a green flash.
Relish it; it really is there only for the blink of an eye.One to two seconds of duration is typical.
Keep looking until it becomes easier to find the green flash.Seasoned observers of the green flash know where and when to look and find that, with practice, seeing green flashes is fairly predictable.
QuestionDoes a green flash happen every night?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, it does not.Thanks!
- Green isn't the only color of a green flash; it is also possible to see blue, yellow, or violet, with green being the most commonplace color sighted.
- There is a "fool's flash" as well as the green flash. This is a green tinged bleaching or (inaccurately termed) "after-image" that will bother you if you stared at the sun directly, which you shouldn't do.
- Polarizing sunglasses may help to increase your chances of seeing the green flash.
- The green ray is considered to be a distinct type of green flash by some observers. This refers to the rarer effect of the usual green flash followed by a brief ray or glow of green shooting up from the point of the sunset.
- Don't stare directly at the sun, or it can damage your retina! Staring at the sun is dangerous even when it's rising or setting.
Video: A perfect Green Flash Sunset
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