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Green Flash Sighting — At Long Last

Last Updated on August 3, 2023

Sunset at Hermosa Beach, California
The green flash has eluded my lenses for many, many years.

When I first moved to SoCal, there were several myths I’d expected to implode — once I’d lived here long enough. I’ve now been here just under a decade, and I’ve found that most of these fables are more truth than legend (awesome weather, Hollywood superficiality, excessive flakiness, etc.).

But the green flash, that most ephemeral of SoCal phenomena, has finally proven real. Today, while taking photos on Dockweiler Beach as the sun slipped below the sea line, I realized that conditions were perfect for viewing.

There are several scientific explanations for the green flash (a name that sounds quite like a comic book hero to me, an amalgam of the Green Lantern and The Flash, only I’m not sure what the Green Flash’s singular super-power would be, other than lasting for a nanosecond).

After reading all the literature about the green flash, which I have looked for on many an occasion and have never seen until today, I can’t say for sure that what I experienced was indeed a true green flash. In fact, even as I witnessed it with my own two eyes, I questioned it several times, especially when I blinked and it disappeared. I’d read that it was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it event, a fleeting special effect not even worthy of a credit in the smallest indie flick. So when it reappeared after several seconds of unblinking gaze, I was quite surprised, and much more inclined to corroborate its existence.

Today on Dockweiler, I swear I saw it. I blinked and it disappeared, only to have it re-emerge a second later for a few more moments of mortal fame. Another blink, and it again evaporated. I began to think the illusion had occurred only because I’d sought it out.

When I spotted the green for a third time (within a 10-second time frame), I wondered momentarily if I was seeing nothing more than a mirage. But then I realized that was what the phenomenon was, a transient spectacle meant for those who seek it. When I turned to hike back up the bluff to my car, I spied a line of spectators seeking the same visual marvel I’d just witnessed. “Did you see it?” “Was that it?” I heard them ask each other. Although they didn’t hold hands and sing “Kum-Ba-Yah” as I passed, I realized that the miracle had worked its magic. And to be part of that, for only the blink of an eye, was proof enough of the phenomenon.

(The video below was my attempt to capture the green flash on video while I was in St. Lucia. Although you can hear us all get excited that we’d seen it, it unfortunately isn’t visible in the video.)

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