Many people have never heard of a green flash at sunset. Those who have sometimes border on obsession at trying to see the next one. The phenomenon occurs, fleetingly, as the sun disappears below the horizon. While the upper edge of the sun is still barely visible, the flash of green makes its appearance for just a second or two.
The green flash is most easily viewed from the western part of the country over the ocean. It requires a clear day without haze or clouds. Green flashes also occur just before sunrise but they are even rarer. Some people claim to see a “green ray” extending out but these are the least common of all.
What Causes the Green Flash?
Viewing the green flash is a mysterious and exciting experience even for those who have seen it dozens of times. The mystery comes from not knowing what causes the “flash” of color change to take place.
The explanation is a fairly simple one. During the sunset, the atmosphere acts like a weak prism, separating the sunlight into different colors. Before the sun begins to disappear behind the horizon, the various rays of light overlap, preventing the colors from being distinguishable. As the sun sets behind the horizon, the wavelengths disappear, starting with the longest and ending with the shortest ones.
More of the green color gets through creating the green flash at sunset. At times when conditions are really clear, a blue flash is sometimes visible. The process works in the opposite direction for a green flash at sunrise. The green flash occurs as the sun first begins to peek over the horizon.
All Green Flashes Are Not the Same
Different categories of green flashes occur with the majority fitting into one of two categories; inferior mirage flashes and mock mirage flashes. About 2/3 of all green flashes are inferior image flashes. These are oval, flat, and sit close to the level of the ocean. You are most likely to see this type of green flash when the surface is warmer than the air over it.
When the surface is colder than the air in the atmosphere, mock mirage flashes occur. These flashes are higher in the sky and they appear as thin, pointed strips of light.
Get Ready for Your Green Flash Outing
Before you go on your outing, look at a broad number of images so you know exactly what to look for. Sometimes people mistakenly think that the ‘flash’ refers to a bright flash of light. Actually, it refers to the amount of time that the phenomenon lasts. It’s something you have to find, not a lights display that really grabs your attention.
The green flash occurs during the last seconds before the sun disappears into the horizon.
People often miss them when they turn away for just a few seconds while their friends get the thrill of spotting the green light. Once you start looking at photos, you will also find that photographers often fail to capture the event.
Don’t make the mistake of staring into the sun while waiting for it to happen either. Eye experts warn that sunrise and sunset are the most dangerous times of the day for damaging eyes. Wearing sunglasses won’t interfere with your viewing and they could protect your eyes from macular degeneration, cataracts, and even eyelid cancer.
Keep looking even after the sun disappears. During the seconds after sunset, green rays sometimes occur.
Photographing a Green Flash at Sunset
This is one time that your iPhone camera isn’t likely to do an efficient job of capturing the image you have in mind. That’s because regular cameras capture the sun’s image in a way that is too small and visually limited for the green image to appear.
For viewing, many people recommend using binoculars or their camera’s viewfinder to make spotting the flash easier. Magnification prevents beginners from missing out on the subtle green light. When photographing, you may need special equipment, like a lens with a longer focal length and/or a doubler. For professional photography results, just search for guidelines online. Find out what you need before you go on your green flash watch so you are aptly prepared.
Choose the Best Location
One of the simplest reasons that some people are never successful at sighting a green flash is that they choose the wrong location. The location where the event takes place must be lower than your eye. The ocean is the perfect location for your outing. Check the weather and make your reservation for an overnight outing on a clear, cloud-free day.
The great thing about spotting a green flash at sunset is that it gets easier after the first time. Experts explain that every sunset produces a green flash. Whether you see it or not is a matter of how clear the atmosphere is.
Most also agree that viewing the phenomenon never gets old. Just like watching dolphins swim by in the water, it continues to bring excitement to those who take the time to look.
Make Your Green Flash Viewing a Fun Event
You only have one chance to see a green flash at sunset each day. That chance lasts for a matter of seconds. One way to make sure you aren’t disappointed if your first time out is a bust is to turn it into a fun event to share with some of your closest friends.
Schedule a charter and create a custom event that includes lots of much-loved activities. Park and play in the water for fun and maybe a little friendly competition. Do some whale and dolphin watching. Just relax on the deck and enjoy the tranquility of being on the water.
Once the end of the day nears, get everyone in on the excitement of looking for a green flash at sunset. You might even benefit from inviting some pros with more than one sighting under their belt! If your sighting is a success, it will be a great experience for everyone. If not, you still had lots of fun and made memories to last a lifetime.
Contact Adventuress Luxury Catamaran to reserve your custom cruise aboard the beautiful Adventuress. Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is never a disappointment.