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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Seeing is believing

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

sunset over the Gulf of Mexico

On a clear evening as the sun sets over the horizon, you just might be able to experience a phenomenon known as the “green flash.” It is a rare occurrence I‘ve only seen a couple of times in my lifetime.

The atmospheric conditions must be just right and it lasts no more than a second, so it is easily missed. A group of people watching the same sunset when one occurs will not likely all see it.

What does the green flash look like? Why does it occur?

The green flash looks like a flattened dot glowing bright green on the top rim of the sun. It occurs just as the sun disappears from view. The green flash can also be seen at sunrise when the sun first appears.

It happens when the Earth’s atmosphere causes the sun’s light to separate into distinct colors and glow green momentarily. A camera lens or binoculars can help you see it better than the naked eye.

We selected our beach rental on Cape San Blas, Florida largely due to its western-facing view of the Gulf of Mexico. Every evening you will find us out on the deck watching the sunset and hoping to see the green flash.

No two sunsets are the same, making our nightly vigil never grow old. The sunset in the photo was enjoyed on Valentine’s Day. Although there were too many clouds for a green flash it is breathtaking.

Is the green flash real or a myth? Seeing is believing.

Over the past two weeks, we have hosted three couples of friends. On the final night of one couple’s stay, as we headed out to the deck, our friend Rhoda commented, “You guys are the only people I know who talk about this green flash, I think you just made it up.”

Her skepticism was understandable after nearly two weeks with no green flash visible. Seeing is believing.

Less than 10 minutes later, Rhoda exclaimed, “I saw it, the green flash! I saw it, it’s beautiful!” She was the only one who saw it that evening. She believed in the green flash.

What do you believe in yet cannot see?

Think of all the things we cannot see yet believe exist. In the realm of health, consider cell mitochondria turning nutrients into energy, neurons firing to transmit information, sperm swimming to fertilize an egg, gut microbes helping digest our food, and more.

All of these occur out of sight, sustaining life without our conscious direction. We believe they exist, not because we see them, but because the evidence is trustworthy.

When we communicate about nutrition and health to clients and consumers, we need to clearly describe what may not be seen with the eyes but can be visualized and understood if explained in the context of experiences or knowledge people have seen, felt, or understood, making the unseen easier to believe.

Remember the green flash – seeing is believing.

“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we cannot see.”

~ from The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

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