The Green Flash - Kalama Park, Kihei
impressionist painting of the green flash at sunset
Image © Alison Whalen
The green flash is a phenomenon that occurs at sunset when certain conditions prevail, the most important being the absence of visual obstructions (clouds, fog, vog, other islands, etc.) between the horizon and the sky. On these rare occasions, a flash of green spans the horizon for a micro-moment, just as the very bottom of the sun hits the water. In 'Le Rayon Vert', Jules Verne described the green flash as "a green which no artist could ever obtain on his palette, a green of which neither the varied tints of vegetation nor the shades of the most limpid sea could ever produce the like."

I'd watched many sunsets on Maui and had pretty much dismissed the green flash as an island myth until that night at Kalama Park in Kihei, when a lone kayaker paddled in silhouette across the diameter of the setting sun. We suddenly noticed there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I realized that the moment of truth had finally arrived. And sure enough, just as the glowing orange sun dipped dipped its toes into the sea, the horizon turned an eerie phosphorescent green comparable to the gleam in a cat's eyes caught in a the glare of a headlight. I couldn't believe I'd finally seen it! One blink and it was over. The memory lasts much longer.


acrylic on paper
actual image size - 6" X 9"

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