It all happens as the sun begins to set on the horizon, as two people are able to see the fleeting green hue amidst the dying rays. Then, through some inexplicable force, both parties are forever struck by love because this force of nature makes them fall deeply in love…
It’s called Rayleigh scattering or the green ray, which is simply a flash produced by the absence of clouds as the sun hides behind a flat surface, like the ocean. The last visible ray’s aura can be seen as blue, yellow, violet, or green, which tends to be the most common color to appear.
The popular legend that gives powers to the optical illusion romantic originates from Jules Verne’s 1882 novel The Green Ray. This Sci-Fi pioneer tells the journey of Sam and Sib Melville in search of the perfect Rayleigh-producing sunset so that their niece Helena can marry Aristobulus Ursiclos.
According to the story, the color from this strange occurrence produces a peculiar pigment: “A marvelous green, a green no painter can produce in his palette. A green of a nature not found in any of the varied shades of vegetable, nor in the purest of waters. If there is any green in paradise, it can’t be any other green but this, which is, no doubt, the true green of hope.”
Eric Rohmer paid homage to Verne’s work in his 1985 film with the same name. The plot is slightly different to the original, for the story centers around young lovesick Delphine. After ending a relationship, the protagonist decides to take a vacation that ends up leading her to the edge of her melancholy. Amidst this apathetic and defeatist attitude that keeps her from making new acquaintances, she encounters Verne’s book and becomes intrigued by the green ray. It’s after a few days that she comes to understand the cliché of love being found in the unlikeliest of places.
Despite the aforementioned stories being works of fiction, the green ray is a real phenomenon. But more than create instant love, it invites us to believe in the magic of the unexpected. It should be noted that this spectacle can occur before dawn or after dusk, and only lasts about two seconds. It can also happen with the moon or wandering planets such as Venus or Jupiter.
Translated by María Suárez