The Big Idea: The Legendary Green Flash

Have you ever heard of the legendary green flash? 

If you are at the beach, looking at the sunset, you can catch it. Out east, it is possible, but not as common.

Just as the sun drops below the horizon, there’s that all-familiar wave effect you see in movies where the sun is distorted by a number of things—the ripples on the water, the curvature of the Earth, atmospheric conditions—and just as the sun is about to dip out of sight completely,  you get this momentary flash of green light. But you have to be looking at just the right moment or you will miss it. A common mistake is staring at the sun before it goes low. You won’t see it because your eyes have been for the lack of a better word “burned” like when a flash goes off on a camera. You’ve got this annoying spot in front of your eyes. You also can’t look at the sun until at the last moment as the green flash is so brief, you may miss it. Honestly, you can’t set your watch to atmospheric conditions.  

There were many, many an afternoon out west when I was looking for the elusive green flash.

I used to spend time out at La Jolla, California and my friends and I would all go to a local bar, a local bar with a great view of the horizon, and with beer in hand.


I would engage in G.F.R. or Green Flash Research. In fact, my circle of friends and I would all go there, looking for the green flash every night. There were a lot of people who never could see it, so they dismissed it as just a myth.

I never really knew why I was willing to stick it out night after night while others didn’t. Maybe they were impatient. Maybe I was stubborn. Maybe it was a bit of both, but if the conditions are just right and if you take the time—the right time—to look, you will see the green flash.  

Make the time to discover. Make the time to see the hidden gems in the world around us. Make the time to appreciate the details. There’s a physics about that, and that patience does pay off.



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