As you can see from this post, Manhatanhenge is making two rounds in NYC. You can read all about it below, and also check out the photo I took from my rooftop on May 30th.
When the sky is clear, it is phenomenal. When its not…. well, you know. At present, the weather forecast for Wednesday is partly cloudy, and the forecast for Thursday is cloudy, with temperatures in the 80’s (but we know how reliable weather forecasts are….).
Anyway, the second round of Manhattanhenge is this Wednesday and Thursday, July 11, 2012 and July 12, 2012.
If you can, try to get out and view it – it really can be breathtaking!
Update: well there was nothing to view on May 29th due to clouds and rain, but this is the photo I caught from the rooftop of my Upper East Side apartment building at a little after 8 pm tonight, May 30, 2012.
Manhattanhenge is an awe-inspiring phenomenon that occurs twice yearly in New York City!
Assuming the weather cooperates, and it look like it will, tonight – May 29th – a half sun will align itself with the city’s 201-year-old grid at 8:17 PM, creating a wonderful view of the sunset along every street. Tomorrow night, will be another night to behold, when a full sun will walk between New York skyscrapers at 8:16 PM (see: huffington post).
|Sunset looking down 34th Street. One of two days when the sunset is exactly aligned with the grid of streets in Manhattan. Photo © Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2001|
As described on the Hayden Planetarium website:
What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance, just as we have found for the pre-historic circle of large vertical rocks known as Stonehenge, in the Salisbury Plain of England. For Stonehenge, the special day is the summer solstice, when the Sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones, signaling the change of season.
For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year. For 2012 they fall on May 29th, and July 12th, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.
For these two days, as the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon. My personal preference for photographs. But the day after, May 30th, and the day before, July 11, also offer Manhattanhenge moments, but at sunset, you instead will find the entire ball of the Sun on the horizon.
Here’s another photo of Manhattanhenge, this one from Wikipedia:
|42nd Street, July 13, 2006|
According to Wikipedia, this phenomenon is not unique to New York City, but occurs in many cities with “grids”:
The same phenomenon happens in other cities with a uniform street grid. Such occurrences would coincide with the vernal and autumnal equinox only if the grid plan were laid out precisely north-south and east-west, and perfectly aligned with true north as opposed to magnetic north. The situation in Baltimore, Maryland comes fairly close, with its sunrises on March 25 and September 18 and sunsets on March 12 and September 29. In Chicago, Illinois, the setting sun lines up with the grid system on September 25, a phenomenon known similarly as Chicagohenge. In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the setting sun lines up with the east–west streets on October 25 and February 16, a phenomenon known locally as Torontohenge. In Montreal, Quebec, Canada, there may be a Montrealhenge each year on July 12.
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