The Half-Astrophysicist Blog

A Colorful Sunset Animation

I like photographing green flashes at sunset. Tonight’s sunset was particularly rich for a couple of reasons. The Sun set behind  a particularly nice set of mountains resulting in a long series of green flashes with occasional hints of blue and purple. I set my camera to burst mode and took 65 frames. Since my camera takes about 5 frames per second, this corresponds to a little under 11 seconds of video. I animated them all so you can watch it roughly in real time. Sorry for the slight camera shake…the battery in my remote shutter release died so I had to push the shutter release by hand!


December 30, 2014 Posted by | Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | Leave a comment

Green Flashes From Chile

Sitting around Kitt Peak today, I had some extra time and went back and took care of something that has been on my to do list. I photographed a great sunset from Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory back in March. I wanted to animate all the pics so you could see the progression of green flashes. I finally did that today and am pleased with the results.

This animation is roughly real time so they move fairly quickly. You can watch the green flashes (yes, plural) break off the Sun, move away and disappear. Look at the last green flash…do you see other colors as it vanishes? I recommend checking this one out full screen!

November 30, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | Leave a comment

Green and Blue Flashes behind Kitt Peak

I think the title says it all…let’s just cut to the pics.







November 4, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Kitt Peak | , , | Leave a comment

Kitt Peak Sunset

Tonight and the next few nights are when the Sun sets behind Kitt Peak from my usual photography spot on its journey south (it will do the same in early February on its way back north). These are some of my favorite sunsets. I got a hint of a cloudtop green/blue flash as well as some greens and blues at sunset.



The clouds made the sky particularly brilliant right after sunset as well.


Looking forward to seeing what I get tomorrow night!

November 3, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Green Flash, Sunset | , , | Leave a comment

A Spotty Sunset

I don’t post all my sunset pics here…if you want to see them you can follow me on twitter or Google+. I will post some of the more interesting ones here and tonight falls into that category.

There are some pretty good sunspots today. By underexposing the Sun quite a bit, you can bring out the sunspots. I got them just as the Sun was setting behind a mountain.


I waited around for the green flash of course.


Tonight I also took a quick shot toward Kitt Peak. Late next week, the Sun will set behind Kitt Peak and I will be trying to get that shot!


October 23, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Kitt Peak, Solar Photography, Sunset | , , | 2 Comments

A Sunset Gallery

A little busy with might night photography, but I wanted to post a quick gallery of tonight’s sunset. Look for the mock mirages at the top of the Sun in several shots. There is a pale purple mock mirage at one point. I was also lucky enough to get a plane flying across the Sun (I got two pics after I saw it at least). And of course the nice green at the end.


September 24, 2013 Posted by | Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | , , | Leave a comment

Equinox Sunset

Today is the equinox which means the day was close to 12 hours long (atmospheric refraction adds a few minutes…check the length of today for your city!) It was also a nice evening in Tucson as the first cold front of the season moved through. A nice night to photograph sunset. First a wide shot of the setting Sun.


Here is a weak mock (superior) mirage breaking off the top of the Sun.


Here is a slightly stronger mock mirage.


As the Sun set, the colors started to change.


Culminating with a nice green flash that was easily visible to the naked eye as well.




September 23, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | , , | Leave a comment

Finally A Clear Night for Sunset in Tucson!

It has been a very long and cloudy rainy season here in Tucson which has really slowed down photograph. Well, finally broke tonight. Still some scattered clouds, but I got the sunset pics again with several green flashes. Tonight they were very prominently visible to the naked eye…I am a little surprised that they weren’t a little more prominent in the photos.







Finally, one wider shot of the post-sunset sky.



September 11, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | , | Leave a comment

San Diego Sunset

I haven’t blogged in a while. Tucson has been dreadful this summer for observing and photographing. But I am getting ready to redo the layout of this blog and try to get back into things this fall.

Right now at I am at a meeting in San Diego. I was able to hit Sunset Cliffs tonight for sunset (of course!) Nice sunset with a strong mirage and several green flashes breaking off the top. Not going to say much more, just post the pics. IMG_8519 IMG_8410 IMG_8398 IMG_8386 IMG_8383 IMG_8380 IMG_8312

August 28, 2013 Posted by | Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | , | Leave a comment

Alaskan Sunset

With the recent Moon/Mercury/Venus conjunction, some people might wonder where my photos are. Well, I am in Fairbanks, Alaska and that conjunction was pretty much invisible from here as they all set about the same time as the Sun that night! Besides, sunset now is very late at night and the sky never gets dark before the Sun starts coming up again…Fairbanks is not north of the Arctic Circle so there is never a 24 hour day here, but it still never gets dark.

I wanted to see a sunset while I was up here and wanted to wait until a clear night. I was told by the locals that Murphy Dome was the place to go (about a 30 minute drive from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus where I am staying). I needed to get somewhere that had a decent horizon to see the Sun and that seemed to be the closest place.

I got a late start and left about midnight. According to the charts, sunset in Fairbanks was at 12:38am so I thought I was cutting it closer than I like. Of course sunset times assume a flat horizon and you are not standing on a hill…so sunset actually didn’t happen until about 1:10am. Amazing what a difference terrain can make!

First, here is Murphy Dome. Yes, there is a dome.

Mosquitos are plentiful this time of year and they bite. Fortunately, clothes are a sufficient deterrent to them here (unlike Everglades mosquitos which bit through denim!) and I only got some bites on my face as the rest of me was covered up pretty well.

Here is a wide shot of where I was.

IMG_7336I zoomed in as the Sun got closer to the cloud tops. There was some distortion at the top limb, but couldn’t quite pull off a full green flash up there. You can see some nice distortion of the Sun near the horizon.

IMG_7351 IMG_7355Although I didn’t get a full mock mirage green flash, the clouds provided a nice backdrop to see a cloud-top green flash. This was visible naked eye as well as photographically.

IMG_7389 IMG_7415Every now and then I get a new one that I haven’t seen before that makes me think. You might notice there are some small gaps in the clouds. Well, I know you can get a cloud-top green flash, but it seems you can also get them through little holes in the clouds as well. I don’t think this is due to scattering since scattering should take out the greens before the reds.

IMG_7461Finally, a post-sunset shot.

IMG_7587I am very happy I got to see a sunset from here. It is very different. The Sun skims the horizon as it sets and is very prolonged compared to the more southerly latitudes I am used to. Unfortunately, with my schedule up here, I don’t think I will be able to get out for another really late night to do it again as I am dragging pretty bad today!

June 13, 2013 Posted by | Astrophotography, Atmospheric Physics, Green Flash, Sunset | , , | Leave a comment