Does the green flash at sunset really happen?

January 14, 2015, 1 p.m.

They say there's a green flash at sunset...

Have you ever heard about the green flash that is supposed to happen as the sun dips below the horizon? You may have heard of it, may even have looked for it, but have you ever seen it? Have you ever wondered if the green flash is just a myth?

The green flash is indeed real. It just happens only under particular circumstances, which is why it isn't often witnessed.

LiveScience explains, "The green flash is viewable because refraction bends the light of the sun. The atmosphere acts as a weak prism, which separates light into various colors. When the sun's disk is fully visible above the horizon, the different colors of light rays overlap to an extent where each individual color can't be seen by the naked eye. When the sun starts to dip below the horizon the colors of the spectrum disappear one at a time, starting with those with the longest wavelengths to those with the shortest. At sunrise, the process is reversed, and a green flash may occur as the top of the sun peeks above the horizon."

Photographers have been lucky enough to catch the green flash on camera. So if you haven't spotted it yet, don't despair. Keep an eye on the weather. You need an atmosphere that is perfectly clear to be able to catch it happening -- no pollution, haze, or clouds. You'll also want to be near the ocean or on the top of a mountain, since a distant horizon with no interruptions in it is ideal.

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Jaymi Heimbuch is a writer and photographer at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.