17 February 2014

Cambodia 2014: Chasing the Green Flash. Catch on film the last moments of the setting Sun.

Gif animation of the setting Sun into a veil of dust.  Kho Kong Cambodia 2014.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ Astronomy Club Toutatis
Follow our Astronomy club Toutatis in our travels through Cambodia. A series of 6 posts on 6 different topics related to Astronomy.
One of the projects that I was really looking forward to was chasing the Green flash. This involved me being on a beach, sipping great cocktails, following the Sun while tanning, bathing in a waveless sea and be sure that the camera is ready for the Sunset when it arrived. This sounds fantastic doesn’t it? It was!

I observed the Sunset from 2 distinct places in Cambodia. First was for 2 days on the west coast of Cambodia, near the border town of Krong Koh Kong (Border with Thailand). The other place was the paradise island of Koh Rong on the coast of Sihanoukville in the southern parts of Cambodia. I stayed there for 4 days.

So, what is the Green flash? What are you looking for?
 Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two. Watch for a flash, flicker, or brief glow of bright green light. It will appear on "top" of the sun just as the sun appears to slide below the horizon. It may also appear as a green glow on the horizon just as the sun has set.

Sun moment before setting into dust veil, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
A minute later, the Sun sink into a dust veil above the sea.
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
How can I see it? Where can I see it?
 Choose your location wisely. As I did for the first Sunset, I walked almost 3 kilometers for what I though would have been a great place, but turned out to be to far and to “remote” for any contingencies. The second Sunset I saw from the island Koh Rong, was straight in front of the bungalow I rented. This gave me the opportunity to have all my gear at hand without carrying.  I could sit down on a chair and even have a small table where I could lay my things on. Location is everything!
The green flash can only be seen over a distant horizon that has a distinct edge to it. This makes the ocean the best place to view the green flash from.

What camera and lens did I use? What other gimmicks I used?
 I used a Canon 550D and an Iphone. For the lens I used Canon EFS18-55mm lens and an old 300mmTele-Universar lens. I also used Magic Lantern Software for timelapse shooting. A light tripod with level was very handy.

First Sunset in Krong Koh Kong
You can see Sunspots on the surface of the Sun
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
What did I photograph? What surprised me?
 I used Canon 18-55mm lens to take the Sunset in beautiful postcard landscape pictures.
The f=300 Tele-Universar was to shoot the Sun very tight on the edge of the see.
I also used the magic lantern software to shoot with interval timing, this gave me the opportunity to shoot every second when the crucial seconds of the setting Sun would come and reveal the green flash. This amounted to hundreds of pictures which I saved in small .gif animations. These animations are small time-lapses of the setting Sun.

The most surprising weather related phenomena that I encountered was a thick veil of dust just above the sea that impeded the view of the setting Sun. The Sun appeared to sink into the “fog” and therefore, we couldn’t see a proper Sunset setting on the sea. This dust veil was seen in both locations where I shot the Sunset. 6 days of shooting, 6 days of dust veil.

In conclusion this chase of the green flash on the coasts and islands of Cambodia was simply unbelievable. Even though the illusive green flash eluded me this time, this whole adventure gave me lots of experience on the Sun, brought me to white sandy beach islands and most of all started a new hobby for me: the chasing of the green flash.
Continue reading post no. 6 Cambodia 2014: Astronomy trip through PHOTOS

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