So what the hell is Manhattanhenge, you might ask?
On May 29 and July 12 every year, the sunset lines up with Manhattan’s street grid which, as the Hayden Planetarium puts it, simultaneously illuminates “both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough.”
Manhattanhenge isn’t the same thing as Stonehenge, as those Salisbury Plain rocks align perfectly with the sunrise on the day of the summer solstice.
Manhattanhenge isn’t a solstice at all.
Indeed, on May 29 and July 12, the visual effect takes place because the sun’s daily arc across the sky has yet to hit its extreme limit — which is essentially the definition of a solstice.
If you’re interested in snapping pics, the solar disk will sit half above and half below the horizon this evening. On May 30 and July 11, the “entire ball” will be buoyed on the horizon. Keep your eye on the clock — the prime time to photograph the phenomenon is at 8:17 p.m. and 8:16 p.m. tomorrow. (But it’s a good idea to be ready a half hour beforehand.)
The best place to see it? The planetarium’s Neil deGrasse Tyson explains:
“Position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas.”
And if you decide to set your eyes on the sky, don’t forget to practice safe sun observing!
(H/T Boing Boing)
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 29, 2012