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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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  #1  
Old 08-10-2006
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Green Flash

I have been sailing many years and toasted more sunsets than I can say. That being said, with all of my efforts, the only time I have ever seen "the green flash" was when I regretfully tried to re-light my barbeque grill after it had blown out 5 minutes earlier.


No lying... now: Is that for real?
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Old 08-10-2006
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I'll bet your complete lack of all facial hair is proof to that story. I also confess to never seeing the green flash . . . even at Mallory Square, when the crowd chimed in unison to have seen it - my wife and I didn't. I think it's a myth supported through the years by psychosemantics.
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Old 08-10-2006
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Either it is a myth, or I have failed to consume sufficient alcohol before the toast.

I have stood at Key West and pushed my way through the crowd, and watched... pretty orange and yellows, but nothing more. Nice to know I am not the only one.
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Old 08-10-2006
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PS, TrueBlue, as far as the Barbie goes, the chicken just did not taste right that night. Luckily, some of it did land back in the boat, so we blamed it on a dirty deck....
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I have actively searched out the green flash for years. Over the last 20 or so years there must have been over 100 sunsets when conditions were "perfect" for the green flash. I have stared at the sunset standing amongst people who celebrated seeing it and still I have not witnessed it. The closest I came was when I badly banged my head in the companion way just after sunset. I think it is an illusion- try staring at a orange light in a dark room, then turn of the orange light, what do you see? I think it's something along that or a hoax by bartenders to build up happy hour business. For me a sunset in a beautiful place is a good enough reason for a rum!
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Old 08-10-2006
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I think sailphoto fits in just fine as a sailor... though I must say, the bottle can go empty even on a cloudy sunless day.

(Oh, that rhymed!!)
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Old 08-10-2006
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I've never seen the flash, but my father swears he saw it once. From Wikipedia:

Green flashes and green rays are rare optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible for a short period of time above the sun, or a green ray shoots up from the sunset point. It is usually observed from a low altitude where there is an unobstructed view of the horizon, such as on the ocean.

Its explanation lies in refraction of light (as in a prism) in the atmosphere and is enhanced by atmospheric inversions. Whilst we would expect to see a blue light, the blue is dispersed (this is why the sky is blue) and only the green light remains visible.

With slight magnification (caution: never point binoculars or a telescope at the sun), a green rim on the top limb of the solar disk can be seen on most clear-day sunsets. However the flash or ray effects require a stronger layering of the atmosphere and a mirage which serves to magnify the green for a fraction of a second to a couple of seconds.

For more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_flash
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Old 08-11-2006
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I've seen the green rim in Jotun's post numerous times -- like a spark, brief and subtle, when watching sunset over an ocean horizon. (even some times when we weren't drinking! LOL) and a close friend has seen it once at sunrise in the Caribbean. Though I've never seen the sky go green -- yet -- I'll keep watching.

Interestingly, I've also been told that it's more common further north, due to the lower angle of the sun's rays. OTOH, I'm not inclined to sit out in my parka on a windy shore any longer than I have to ;-)
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Old 08-11-2006
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Well...I have seen it off the Turks&Caicos...once in all my years of sailing. The day was clear and sunny but with some high cumulus clouds which during the day looked green on their bottoms due to the reflection of the water. This was actually more beautiful than the "flash" which was quite brief and caught me by surprise. I was a skeptic too...but no more!
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Yeah, if it's hazy at all, the green spark won't happen. If the sun starts turning lemon-y as it approaches the horizon, instead of orange or red, you've got a decent chance. We had more luck in Barbados than anywhere else, maybe the isolation there?

I thought the green bottoms of the clouds was reflection from land?? Wasn't that how Columbus found us?
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