Odd Shaped Sun and Mock Green Flash

September 23, 2012

MockgreenflashDSC_1253 (2)

: Jim Grant
Summary Author: Jim Grant; Jim Foster

Thermal inversions, relatively cool air in the lower atmosphere overlain by warmer air, can distort the Sun and Moon when they’re observed over bodies of water. As seen here, rays of sunlight from the middle of the Sun pass through a slightly denser atmosphere bending them more than rays coming from the top portion of the Sun. So, if an inversion is present, the spherical shape we’re familiar with when the Sun resides high in the sky becomes decidedly more flattened as it approaches the horizon. In addition to the oddly shaped sun, note the detached strip of green above the solar disk. This is referred to as a mock green flash – it’s also the result of a temperature inversion. Photo taken on August 27, 2012 near Sunset Cliffs, California just before sunset.

Photo Details: Camera: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 300mm (35mm equivalent: 450mm); Aperture: f/6.3; Exposure Time: 0.0004 s (1/2500); ISO equiv: 250; Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery14.0.8064.206.