The Green Flash – At Last!

The Green Flash (Nov 15, 2013) from Barbados

At last, I enjoyed a successful attempt to capture the elusive green flash.

During three weeks at sea attempts almost every evening from the ship to sight the green flash always failed, as the Sun set behind low horizon cloud.

But this night, the Sun set into the ocean with a clear horizon. My location was a small public oceanside walkway on Bay Street near Bridgetown, Barbados. It was a great spot to watch the sunset, though our main purpose for stopping there was to pick up some fried chicken at the KFC just steps away!

But the imminent sunset under ideal conditions made it worthwhile sticking around to see if we (I was with two friends from Alberta) could sight the green flash.

We did! I shot a rapid fire sequence – the image above is one frame of many catching the last bit of the Sun remaining above the horizon and turning green.

The infamous green flash is a refraction effect caused by the atmosphere separating out the green light and lifting it higher so it’s the last thing you see as the Sun sets. Conditions aren’t always amenable to seeing the green flash – you need a clear horizon and you also need the atmosphere structured with warm layers near the sea creating a mirage effect.

For more details on the technical explanations see Andrew Young’s page at 

… and Les Cowley’s page at 

Andrew Young has a nice simulation at

Sunset from Barbados (Nov 15, 2013)

This was the view moments before, with the lower edge of the setting Sun distorted by atmospheric refraction, a sign that you might see a green flash as the upper edge disappears.

Sunset & Sailing Boat from Barbados

I shot this image a few minutes earlier as a photogenic sailboat drifted into the scene. Red sails in the sunset!

I’m nearing the end of my stay in Barbados and my 4 weeks away from home. There are heavy snowfall warnings out for southern Alberta this weekend so I’m not anxious to return! But winter will be waiting for me next week.

– Alan, November 16, 2013 / © 2013 Alan Dyer


6 Replies to “The Green Flash – At Last!”

  1. Reblogged this on oxherderzen and commented:
    Well, serendipitous-ness again! I was only just thinking about the Sun’s green flash a couple days ago… wondering if my childhood memory of a ‘fact’ was real or not.. and then I stumbled upon this blog! BAM! The Universe green flashed my brain!

  2. This is amazing and serendipitous … becuase just a couple of days ago I was thinking about something I recalled from childhood… that when the sun sets on the horizon, there is a brief flash of green… and all these years later I never have seen it (never looked much to be fair) and never thought of this ‘fact’ much at all either. So, the other day I was trying to remember where i learned this ‘fact’ and if it was in fact, a ‘fact’ at all! So, here I am just a couple days past from thinking about this very thing you posted and, without searching,I just stumbled upon your blog when searching ‘solar system’ in the REader here on WordPress. Go figure, this Universe is pretty awesome! Thank you for this post! 🙂

  3. Good catch! The on;y time i saw this was the time I wasn’t expecting it, in Hawaii. I have attempted photos, but never succeeded.

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