The fabled green flash at sunset is real we can report after recording two awesome flashes over Kauai. One of the flashes occurred on a Capt. Andy’s Na Pali Boat Cruise that had been diverted to the south shore (Kipu Kai) due to rough weather conditions on the Na Pali Coast. The other flash was recorded at Hanalei Bay from the Hanalei Pier.
A green flash is a meteorological optical phenomena that can occur at sunrise or sunset when the sun meets an unobstructed horizon such as an ocean. A flash is produced when light is refracted through the atmosphere. The flash usually lasts for about a second or two. In some cases the edge of the sun turns green when dipping below the horizon. The phenomenon is first mentioned in the Jules Verne novel Le Rayon Vert.
In the first recorded video over Niihau, there was a discernible flash of light over the sun while the sun was still mostly visible as it was setting behind the island of Niihau. (The captain had positioned the boat so the sun would set behind the island.) There was also a discernible flash at Hanalei Bay.
We did a little research on the Internet about green flashes and it appears our videos are some of the better captures. In our non-scientific analysis, the sunlight may have passed through a layer of moisture-laden air for a brief moment while it was in a direct line on our position, and the light refracted. It is important to note that the flash occurred while the sun was mostly visible in the Niihau video. There is a belief that the flashes occur exactly at the moment the entire sun disappears below the horizon. Several videos we found show the top edge of the sun turn green for a brief moment before it disappears, and those are a different kind of flash than the ones in our videos. Our videos show an actual flash in the sky above the sun. From these experiences, we believe you may be able to increase your chances of seeing a flash by viewing, and recording, the entire sunset.
Some say once you’ve seen the fabled green flash, you’ll never again have troubles with matters of the heart. Wish this were true, as now we have seen two!
Green Flash Videos
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We uploaded two videos of the green flash to Instagram. The flashes were recorded with an iPhone 10 XS Max using the Live Photo setting. The two photos were converted to videos using the iPhone’s “save as video” option. The photos were taken in quick succession with overlapping content, as the Live Photos feature records 1.5 seconds before and after a picture is taken.
Green Flash Photos
Above: Before the flash. The Silhouette on the horizon is the “forbidden island” of Niihau.
Above and below: The flash!
After the flash.
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