Several readers have pointed out recently that Orholam’s Wink–or Neptune’s Wink, as it’s sometimes called–is a real thing. It is a meteorological optical phenomenon that (long story short) happens when sunlight is refracted by our atmosphere at a particular angle. You can see this phenomenon live and in-person… If you’re in the right place. At the right time.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the right place is sea level, and the right time is sunset, or sunrise.
The timing for sunrise is a bit tricky, since you’d need to be staring at the horizon at sea level on a cloudless morning just before the sun begins to peek out over the horizon.
I don’t know about you, but I need more sleep than that. Also I live near a west-facing coast, so watching for the wink at sunrise is…impractical.
The print/online magazine Physics World has an article about this lovely little gift from our atmosphere, shared in 2015.
The article is worth a read; it’s an explanation of the green flash, but it’s also a story from astrophotographer Pete Lawrence. In it he explains, “The atmosphere acts like a prism, refracting different wavelengths by varying amounts.”
A prism, hmmmmm? You think Pete is a Lightbringer fan?