A Celestial Surprise: The Evening Sky’s Green Flash

As the spring day faded on May 16th in Hangzhou, commuters witnessed an extraordinary celestial event. Around 6:55 PM, chatter erupted online with locals reporting what appeared to be a meteorite falling from the sky. The blue-green illumination and white trailing light suggested an object larger than a typical meteor, leaving observers in awe.

Witnesses Revel in Dusk’s Marvel

A local named Xiao Nian, who was driving at the time, first noticed what she initially thought could be either a meteor or fireworks. The object’s size and the distinct blue-green glow quickly dispelled these initial thoughts. Regrettably, she reflected on the missed opportunity to make a wish upon this rare spectacle.

Accidental Frame in Sunset Chaser’s Picture

Photography enthusiast Mr. Zhou captured this timely encounter on camera. Usually pursuing serene sunset photographs, he found himself snapping a picture of an unexpected visitor instead. The event left him jokingly wondering if his lucky shot means his wishes for the year might just come true.

Unanticipated Guest in Evening Shopping Photo

Similarly, Miss Zheng, while strolling near Qiao Si Street after work, managed to photograph this unique moment right after parking her car, during what she thought would be an ordinary evening appreciating the sunset. Like Xiao Nian, Zheng also lamented not making a wish in that fleeting instant.

Search for Clarity

As online discussions grow, locals are looking for more information. Some are left to wonder whether the object was a meteorite or mere space debris. With the quest for clear documentation ongoing, the incident has reignited a memory of the meteorite pieces found in Zhejiang’s Pujiang just a couple of years prior, reminding residents of the sky’s endless mysteries.

Understanding the Green Flash Phenomenon

The green flash that many Hangzhou residents reported can actually be explained as an optical phenomenon that occurs shortly after sunset or just before sunrise. When the conditions are right, typically when the atmosphere is clear, the green flash can be observed for a brief moment. This occurs because the Earth’s atmosphere can cause the light from the sun to refract or bend in such a way that the different colors are separated. Green is one of the last visible colors to disappear, making a brief flash as the sun crosses the horizon.

Most Important Questions Answered

1. What causes the green flash?
The green flash is caused by atmospheric refraction. As light from the sun passes through the Earth’s atmosphere, it bends differently depending on its wavelength. This effect is especially pronounced at sunrise and sunset when the sun’s light passes through a greater amount of atmospheric air. Green light has a shorter wavelength than red light, which makes it refract more strongly, and momentarily becomes visible as a green flash.

2. Is the green flash related to meteorites?
No, the green flash is not caused by meteorite activity. It is a separate event that is related to the atmospheric conditions of the Earth and the refraction and scattering of sunlight.

Key Challenges and Controversies

The main challenge in observing the green flash is the need for a clear and unobstructed view of the horizon, in addition to suitable atmospheric conditions. Moreover, the phenomenon is ephemeral, lasting only a few seconds, making it difficult to capture and observe.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of the green flash are mostly aesthetic, as it provides a beautiful and rare sight for sky watchers and photographers. However, there are no inherent disadvantages to the green flash itself, except perhaps the frustration experienced by those who attempt to observe or photograph it due to its rarity and fleeting nature.

For those interested in learning more about the green flash and other atmospheric phenomena, the NASA website can provide a wealth of information. While it’s regrettable that no specialized links to this topic can be provided by request, NASA remains an authoritative source on various space- and sky-related topics, which likely include the green flash.