Observing a green flash when the Sun sinks below the horizon is a delightful experience. I had read about the elusive phenomena shortly after moving to Hawaii. When I decided to write a scene with my characters experiencing the memorable sight, naturally I turned to researching the cause of such flashes.
Green flashes are observed from any altitude but not often photographed. They are usually best seen from an unobstructed horizon, either over the ocean or above cloud or mountain tops. With unobstructed views of the horizon, airline pilots often observe the flash when flying westward as the setting of the sun is slowed.
Atmosphere causes light from the Sun to separate into different frequencies, particularly at sunrise and sunset when the light travels through more of the Earth’s atmosphere. Orange and yellow are filtered out of the spectrum of colors while the green is enhanced.
In all these years, I have only witnessed such a phenomenon once. Near sunset, I was poised near the beach at Waikiki as the shimmering orb drifted below the fronds of scattered palm trees.
When the air is warm and the breeze is cool, worries float away with the wind. On a clear day, you can see forever. And this was one of those days. The Sun dipped ever lower until it touched the horizon of the Pacific Ocean and sunk lower, causing a flash of green that drew gasps of pleasure from the lingering crowd.
Mesmerized, I watched the glowing green haze. The flash may have lasted for mere seconds. But time slowed as the image emblazoned itself on my eyes, creating the illusion of an extended event, and searing the experience into my memory for a lifetime.