Mock Green Flash Observed from Near Sparta, Greece

March 24, 2012

Green flash 900x (2)

Photographer: P. Nikolakakos
Summary Authors: P. Nikolakakos; Jim Foster

The photo above shows a cherry-pink Sun capped by a speck of green as observed near Sparta, Greece last summer. On this clear, calm dawn I was positioned on a mountain ridge at an elevation approaching 6,000 ft (1,830 m) with an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon and the rising Sun. The green rim here is referred to as a mock green flash. If conditions are right, atmospheric dispersion can produce separate images of each spectrum color and result in a green flash from the uppermost rim of the Sun as it rises. The mock-mirage type of green flash is caused by a thermal inversion --- warm air above a layer of colder air. To increase your chances of seeing the green flash, use a small telescope or binoculars, but make sure to protect your eyes when looking toward the Sun.