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The Green Flash

Years ago a friend of my husband’s told us about the “green flash” that sometimes occurs when the sun sets. He’d never seen it, and after multitudes of sunsets, and diligently waiting to see this phenomenon and never witnessing one, I thought it was a myth. However, this weekend during the “blue moon” my husband and I sat at the Deck in Laguna Beach to watch the sunset with a couple of friends, and low and behold, we saw it.

On this Memorial weekend, packed with sunset gazers, I heard the excited chattering of a man behind me ranting about the “green flash” and instructing his out of town guests to watch for it. I chuckled to myself, thinking that this night would end up like all the rest of my sunset experiences. As the sun leisurely melted into the sea, a flash of green appeared. A snapshot of color burst from the horizon, then disappeared. The audience erupted into applause and high fives. I turned to my husband in amazement, “awesome.” I couldn’t wait to tell our friend we finally saw it, which I did the following day. He was a bit miffed that he missed it.

What causes the flash of green light? I read an article on the web from the “Universe Today” that stated that these flashes occur because the light from the sun is bent as it passes through the earth’s atmosphere, following the curvature of the earth. This is the short version; the article rambled on in scientific explanations and lost me. Whatever causes this to occur; I am pleased that I witnessed this rare event.