Photo by Dr. Andrew T. Young, San Diego State University.
Yesterday evening at a birthday party in Forio Sylvia and I sat side-by-side on the veranda, chatting with the others. There was a pause in the conversation, and we watched the deep scarlet disc sink into the Mediterranean. Sylvia remarked that on very clear evenings like this the sun seems to suddenly speed up in its descent. She was right, the falling seemed extraordinarily fast. Or was it just her power of suggestion?
In any event, a moment after the sun disappeared, I saw a horizontal sliver of incandescent green. It didn’t last long, perhaps one or two seconds.
“Did you see that?” I asked.
“Of course!” Sylvia said.
I recalled the so-called “green flash” is often mentioned in tourist guides to Ischia. It comes very rarely, they say. This morning I Googled it. A professor at San Diego State University, Dr. Andrew T. Young, explains that this—and similar related phenomena—are in fact mirages caused by the same atmospheric refraction and scattering effects that produce a red sunset.
Now, this apparition was even more significant because yesterday was not only our friend's birthday, but it also was the summer’s solstice, the longest day of the year. The setting sun, having reached its furthest northern point on the horizon, now heads back south. Perhaps the emerald flash was a portent, a symbol, a sign.
Oh, I hope so!