Extremely rare 'green flash' coming from Venus captured by a lucky photographer

A very lucky photographer has captured the extremely rare phenomenon of green light flashing from one of our closest planetary neighbors.

2 minutes & 18 seconds read time

A very lucky photographer has captured a rare phenomenon that occurs when light passes through Earth's atmosphere.

A green flash from Venus captured Peter Rosén

The green flash was captured by photographer Peter Rosén who pointed his camera at one of Earth's closest neighbors - Venus. The footage was snapped in the early hours on January 8 as Rosén was watching Venus rise above the horizon. So, what is this green flash, as shown above? Firstly, visible light contains many different wavelengths of colored light, and when this light shines through Earth's atmosphere, these individual wavelengths begin to be refracted through the molecules in Earth's atmosphere.

The green flash is light bouncing off Venus and making its way through Earth's atmosphere, specifically Earth's low atmosphere, where it travels through more of the atmosphere and eventually reaches the observer. As light passes through Earth's atmosphere, a prism effect takes place, as the light is split into RGB colors, which can also be affected by temperature. When this event is taking place, it's possible that only green wavelengths of light make it to the observer, with all other wavelengths either being scattered or absorbed by Earth's molecules.

"On Monday morning I woke up early to get a beautiful view of Venus and the Moon rising over Stockholm's skyline," says Rosén. "Because of the extreme cold that still persists over southern Sweden, I also got an unexpected bonus in the form of a rare green flash on Venus."

However, in the above footage, if you look closely, you will be able to see yellow, orange, red, and even blue. Another simple example of this is how Earth's atmosphere scatters blue wavelengths of light more than any other color, resulting in the sky appearing blue.

Extremely rare 'green flash' coming from Venus captured by a lucky photographer 151515

This isn't the first time observers have spotted a green flash on Venus, and the phenomenon is more commonly seen when looking at the Sun, particularly during a sunset or a sunrise above an ocean horizon. There have even been some instances where individuals have seen ice crystals refract the light even more, creating rainbow-colored clouds or halos of light around the Sun or moon.

This effect isn't exclusive to astronomical objects reflecting light through Earth's atmosphere, as rainbow rings have been seen around the Sun during an intense pollen swarm. It was only in June 2023 that a photographer in Finland captured an intense pollen swarm, creating an incredible rainbow around the Sun. If you are interested in checking out that story or would like to see the multiple images captured during the event, visit this link here.

A pollen corona in Turku, Finland

A pollen corona in Turku, Finland

I suppose that was the scenic route of explaining that light from Venus passed through Earth's atmosphere, and the only wavelengths of light that made it through our planet's atmosphere were the ones seen in the above gif.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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