Before I left home, I knew precisely what I would be doing during the daylight hours of my artist residency on Maatsuyker Island – hunting for plants, photographing, then drawing and painting them. But what to do in the evenings when the good light I need for artwork is gone? I love knitting, and my dear grandmother taught me the techniques when I was a small girl. Now I knit in front of tele at night or when I am a passenger on long car trips. So, I decided I would take about 20 balls of coloured wool to knit a rug. A relaxing way to unwind after an intense eye-straining day of plant investigation… But the Maatsuyker gods had other ideas!
First in the line-up – Spectacular Sunsets…
Since Maatsuyker Island is so far south ( 43.66 °S) and since our 2-month visit spanned the longest day of the year, sunset occurred between approx 8:40pm and 9:00pm, with last light between 9:20pm and 9:35pm.
During December (2011), the weather was unusually good for Maat and so we were treated to many beautiful sunsets. We soon got into a routine of finishing dinner in plenty of time to take up a suitable vantage point. If it was calm and warm enough, we would sometimes sit on the grass hill at the back of Q2 facing south.
But that wasn’t always the case. Even in the height of summer, it can be very cold on Maatsuyker Island. From Bureau of Meteorology weather observations data, the lowest minimum for Dec 2011 was 5.1 deg C and the highest max was 25.0 deg C. (The average daytime max was around 13.5 deg C.) Here’s Marsha photographing the sunset on a colder evening. Sometimes we avoided the icy wind or rain and watched from the glassed-in verandah at the back of Q2.
And YES! we did see the green flash! Right near the end of our stay, on the evening of Friday 3rd Feb, 2012. Extract from my diary –
“Well we were blessed with another -spectacular- sunset. Just when you think they can’t get any better, they do. It was a cracker. Marsha and I had just finished our Friday night pizza dinner at about 8:15 when we noticed interesting clouds in the west. So out we went with cameras and we both took many pics. It was very calm, not a breath of wind, and quite balmy, not cold at all.
We are both convinced we saw THE GREEN FLASH! I was just about to take this photo and looking through the viewfinder I saw the last of the sun go green as it dropped below the horizon. My finger on the shutter was too slow.. if you could see this image magnified, you would see a tiny dot of the last of the sun setting… Very exciting to see it but I did not capture it with the camera. “
The next day, R&M visited from Q1 and before we could say a word, they excitedly asked us if we had seen the Green Flash… YES! confirmed sighting… Here is a link to a photo that -did- capture the green flash. http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap140604.html