"" Writer's Wanderings: World Cruise - The Green Flash

Friday, March 27, 2015

World Cruise - The Green Flash

Fact or fiction? Bob claims to have seen it twice. I think I saw it once but when you stare at the setting sun it’s hard to tell if it’s really a flash or just your retinas reacting from the light. I looked it up once and posted about it but there came an interesting article in our ship’s daily newspaper that I couldn’t help but share with you.

It has to do with the spectrum of colors around the sun. As the rays hit our atmosphere they are slowed, bent and refracted. The lower the sun the greater the thickness of air light must pass through before reaching the eye of the observer. The dispersion of light is greatest at sunrise and sunset.

As the sun disappears, the colors of the spectrum disappear one by one. The red rays are the first to go. (Red is also the first color you lose as you dive deeper in the ocean.) The red rays sink, the orange and yellow are absorbed and the blue and violet are scattered away. The color least affected is green and that is what we see for an instant just as the sun disappears.

Now what we found really interesting is that the slower the sun sets, the longer the green flash lasts. As you move closer to the poles, the sun takes longer to set and at some times of the year barely sets before rising again. In Norway midsummer’s green flash can last as long as fourteen minutes, seven as it sets and seven as it rises again immediately (the midnight sun).

The best spot to see the green flash is where there is a sharp horizon and the sky is free of haze. So a desert, or on mountains or over water would be best. Hey! Wish us luck. We’d like to see it again at least once while we’re here on the sea.

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