Green Flash … Myth or Reality?

Mention the green flash in mixed company and ethereal sounds accompanied by raised eyebrows and thoughts that you have gone off the deep end, may occur. Many have never heard of it, some say it is an optical illusion, while others don’t believe it exists at all.

These varied reactions are often based on a skepticism that has arisen because many beach lovers (who will admit it)  spend a lifetime looking for, while never actually seeing the phenomenon.

Evidences of the green flash were recorded as early as 2500 BC when diagrams of the sun, painted blue at the top and green at the bottom, were discovered by Archeologists on Egyptian pillars. Then, published accounts in W. Swan’s writings in 1865 and in Jules Verne’s writings in 1882 further supported such sightings. It was the astronomers, however, who finally put the skepticism aside. Agreeing that the green flash is an atmospheric event, they noted that just as the sun slips over the horizon on a clear night, it can send up a spark of green flaring for only an instant than disappearing faster than one can speak.

I have walked the beaches of San Clemente for the last 40 years scanning the horizon for this phenomenon. I have only seen it once while walking along Poche Beach at the north end of town. It was an unexpected, indescribably unforgettable experience.

The Bible says “you can know there is a God by observing nature.” And … unlike the Scottish legend, while I didn’t “see closely into my heart,”  the experience touched me nonetheless.

If you have never heard of nor believed in this most lovely of visions, I would encourage you to put doubts aside and open up to the experience. In my humble opinion, like sand, waves, and sunsets, the green flash is something every beach lover should want to see. It is one of those things worth the wait, an experience that might even make a believer of you.

Cathy Parker says:

I just stumbled on your blog as I did a quick search to learn more about paddle outs that was referenced in regards to Hobie’s death (thank you, very moving)…..and delving further read this post…. We look for the flash on these clear evenings not too far south of you in San Diego…you know your odds are good when there is no cloud bank…and then boom, don’t blink….and try not to say “Did you see it?” If you’re with a little group and some of them looked away….we saw a beauy last weekend!!!


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