Green flash over Venus: Amateur astronomer captures extremely rare phenomenon

Swedish photographer and amateur astronomer Peter Rosen impressed with a photo of a rare astronomical phenomenon that he captured in the night sky of Sweden on January 8, 2024. Observing how Venus rose above the Stockholm horizon, Rosen accidentally recorded a brilliant green flash around the planet.

Green glow of Venus over Stockholm. Photo: @pixmix_photo

“I was shooting the Moon and Venus rising over Stockholm starting before 7 AM (local time),” Rosen said.

The astrophotographer used Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and a Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 telephoto lens set to its 600mm focal length. The sequence of images was taken at ISO 3200 with a 0.6-second exposure and f/8 aperture.

Animation of a green “flash” over Venus. Photo: @pixmix_photo

The astrophotographer managed to capture an animation sequence of 11 frames, while the green flash lasted only one or two seconds. Rosen showed crops from a larger overall photo in GIF format. A green flash is an extremely rare phenomenon, which Space Weather describes as maybe “the best ever,” however, Rosen had previously observed similar phenomena.

“Besides the Sun where it is more commonly observed, I have filmed it on Mars in 2018,” says the photographer. Rosen notes that although such phenomena are rarely observed, he was lucky enough to capture them due to his constant interest in photographing planets.

Green flashes occur because the Earth’s lower atmosphere acts like a prism, breaking white light into seven colors. When a bright planet like Venus appears very low above the horizon, it can turn into a miniature “rainbow”. The illusion of a flash appears when extremely sharp temperature gradients in the air enhance a particular color. In the case of the astrophotographer’s observations, a green “flash” was seen over Venus.

“It is often said that these events are extremely rare, and of course, it is true as I have only observed it twice in six years. But the reason that I happened to catch them is that I did not give up photographing the planets through a telephoto lens or a telescope even though the planets were at very low altitudes and with strong turbulence in the atmosphere. I always have my reasons not to give up and sometimes it pays off,” Rosen adds.

Since childhood, Rosen has been interested in the night sky. When his mother first showed him Mars and explained that it was not a star, but a planet, he was amazed at the opportunity to see another world. At the age of 16, he began observing Saturn through a telescope, and then began to take amateur photographs of astronomical objects.

Venus over Stockholm. Photo: @pixmix_photo
Light pillars over Stockholm. Photo: @pixmix_photo

Earlier, we explained about the rare phenomenon of the “Da Vinci glow”.

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