Jules Verne, among others, wrote about the “green flash,” but the first time we read about it, we concluded that it seemed about as likely as traveling 20,000 leagues under the sea. It was called “an intense spark of colored light visible at sunrise or sunset” – sure, with Nessie rising to greet it, no doubt. However, after considerable research we decided that if the green flash does not exist, it is a hoax that has survived for a couple thousand years.
Assuming that the right atmospheric conditions are present, along with a view of a distant horizon, and the sun sinking toward its nighttime rest, scientists explain the phenomenon as follows. Consider a prism and the way it splits light into its component colors. The green color comes from a leftover ray of sunlight still hanging in the sky after the red, orange, and yellow have dropped below the horizon. The blue and violet rays are scattered invisibly in the atmosphere, leaving a clear emerald green just at the edge of the sun – the same green rim we’ve seen many times when ignoring parental admonitions to “Stop looking at the sun. It will ruin your eyes! ”