Sunset in Portovenere enchants NASA

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Every day, NASA selects and publishes the “Astronomy Picture of the Day” on This is a fun and interesting idea to discover the cosmos with a different daily image of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

Distorted Green Flash Sunset in Portovenere

On 8 September 2015, NASA featured the image above by Paolo Lazzarotti. In captures a strange sunset in Portovenere, on Liguria’s Bay of Poets.

What made the image so special? Here is the explanation:

“This was one strange sunset. For one thing, the typically round Sun appeared distorted, geometrically, and multiply layered. For another, some of these layers appeared unusually green. The Sun, of course, was just fine — its odd appearance was caused entirely by its light refracting in the Earth’s atmosphere. When layers of the Earth’s atmosphere are unusually warm, layers of the Sun may appear distorted or even seen multiple times. The effect is most strong nearest sunrise and sunset when terrestrial inversion layers occupy distinct altitudes above the horizon.Different colors of the Sun may also become deflected by significantly different amounts, so that the uppermost superior image may appear momentarily green — a phenomenon known as a green flash. The featured image was taken in February from Porto Venere, Italy, with San Pietro church situated in the foreground.”

Fascinating, isn’t it?!

Click on the image to view a larger version (new window)

Sunset in Portovenere, Liguria - Image Credit & Copyright: Paolo Lazzarotti


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