June 2024


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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Earthsky Tonight—May 7, See the legendary green flash

Courtesy of EarthSky
A Clear Voice for Science

Our image today was taken by Mike Baird. It is a classic image of a detached green flash, seen at sunset. Used with permission.

You can see green flashes with the eye, sometimes, if you are looking toward a very clear horizon. You must be looking just at sunset, at the last moment before the sun disappears below the horizon. In addition, you have to be careful not to look too soon. Wait until just the thinnest rim of the sun appears above the horizon. If you look too soon, the light of the sunset will dazzle (or damage) your eyes, and you will miss that day’s green flash.

There are many different types of green flash. Some describe a streak or ray of the color green . . . like a green flame shooting up from the sunrise or sunset horizon. The most common green flash which many people describe, is a flash of the color green seen when the sun is nearly entirely below the horizon.

You need a distant horizon to see any of these phenomena, and you need a distinct edge to the horizon. Therefore, these green flashes, streaks and rays are often seen over the ocean, but you can see them over land, too, if your horizon is far enough away. Pollution or haze on the horizon will hide this instantaneous flash of the color green.

If you are interested in green flashes, Andrew Young’s green flash page is great. He also has a page of picture of green flashes taken by people from around the globe.

Here is another good article about the green flash by Peter Michaud.

Here is a rather subtle green flash video. I had to watch it several times to convince myself I saw any green.

Written by Deborah Byrd

Astronomy Picture of the Day from NASA/JPL

CHANDRA Photo Album

U.S. Naval Observator Astronomical Information center

StarDate Online

Sky and Telescope

National Geographic

Space Com

Amazing Space

The York County Astronomical Society

Scope City

James S McDonnell Planetarium

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