2010-10-11 17:51:54.000 – Stacey Kawecki,  Observer and Meteorologist

A beautiful end to a beautiful day

Happy Columbus Day! Christopher Columbus did a lot of sailing. I wonder if he ever saw a green flash. A green flash is something that occurs either just before the sun rises or just after the sunsets, and its duration is usually less than one second. High visibility conditions must exist, and one must be able to see an extensive amount of the horizon. These conditions most commonly exist on the ocean, hence pondering whether or not Christopher Columbus had seen one. The conditions also exist on mountain tops. I can count on one hand the times I’ve seen them from the Observatory á¿œ 2. Today was the second time!

Yesterday there were too many low clouds and high winds to warrant venturing outside for sunset. Today, winds were a little more forgiving and high clouds dominated the sky. After half a day of sunshine, some of the rime sublimated into sharp points and took on a soft, orange glow. Some rime even looked like it was lit from within. Purple, pink, and blue hues set against white rime created a water-color effect on the sky. There was also a well-defined mountain shadow and the Adirondacks were just barely visible.

Today’s green flash took me by surprise. I was admiring the colors to the east when I turned west. As my eyes focused, I saw a brilliant flash of green and then proceeded to squeal like a school girl (I may have thrown in a few decidedly un-school girl-ish expletives). It was by far, the best, most definite green flash I’ve ever seen. Alas, I was not nearly quick enough with my camera.

It’s nice to think that maybe, over half a millennium ago, the man who discovered the Americas might have experienced a green flash or two as well.


Stacey Kawecki,  Observer and Meteorologist

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