|May 2007 San Francisco, California. Photographer: unknown|
The green flash and green-ray are meteorological optical phenomena that sometimes occur transiently around the moment of sunset or sunrise. When the conditions are right, a distinct green spot is briefly visible above the upper rim of the Sun's disk; the green appearance usually lasts for no more than two seconds.
Rarely, the green flash can resemble a green ray shooting up from the sunset or sunrise point. Green flashes occur because the Earth's atmosphere can cause the light from the Sun to separate, or refract, into different colors. Green flashes are a group of similar phenomena that stem from slightly different causes, and therefore, some types of green flashes are more common than others.
Green flash occurs because the atmosphere causes the light from the Sun to separate, or refract, into different frequencies. Green flashes are enhanced by mirages, which increase refraction. A green flash is more likely to be seen in stable, clear air, when more of the light from the setting sun reaches the observer without being scattered.
One might expect to see a blue flash, since blue light is refracted most of all and the blue component of the sun's light is therefore the last to disappear below the horizon, but the blue is preferentially scattered out of the line of sight, and the remaining light ends up appearing green.
|October 2021 San Diego, California. Photographer Tim Stahl|