Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Green Flash

A reader yesterday asked about the Green Flash. I too first read about the Green Flash in a Reader's Digest article a number of years ago. At first I was intrigued, then I turned skeptical. Maybe it was just an "urban legend," I thought. But I kept looking for it, particularly at sunset.

I am no expert on this phenomenon, but, it does actually happen. As I understand it, the light from the sun passes through all the colors of the spectrum as it sinks below the horizon (or rises above it at sunrise). At the instant the sun disappears below a straight line horizon (such as over water) on a clear day, the emerald green can be visible as a momentary flash.

I have looked for the green flash at almost every opportunity, but it is rare to see it. I have never seen it over the Pamlico Sound (or over the Atlantic Ocean). However, my daughter, Amy, and I were fortunate to see it a number of years ago on the Pacific coast at Big Sur. It is so fleeting, but it is also very remarkable. Here is a link to a photo that looks just like the flash that Amy and I saw: http://spaceweather.com/swpod2006/31jan06/zinkova.jpg

Do a Google image search for "Green Flash" and enjoy the many photographs that have been posted on line. Other web sites have much more information about this phenomenon, which is considerably more complex than the explanation I offered above. If anyone has any images of the Green Flash over Pamlico Sound I would be delighted to publish a link from this journal.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of the wreck of the Victoria S, and Ocracoke's first automobile accident. You can read it here.


  1. Anonymous10:01 AM

    thanks for sharing the picture of the Green Flash. I first heard about this phenomonen when in San Diego a few years ago. I've been curious about what it looks like & appreciate your link to the picture. thanks for keeping us so well informed about Ocracoke & allowing those of us who live "off island" to feel included in the community through your blog. Sherrill

  2. Wow! That is amazing. I have seen many of sunsets on Ocracoke Island but never been lucky enough to view the Green Flash. Thanks for the info. Well, it is now, 9 more days and I will be home away from home on Ocracoke.