Manhattanhenge

Unless you’re super cool, or a photographer, or just knowledgeable about things like the sun and sunsets, then you’re probably asking yourself what in the hell is “Manhattanhenge”?

I had no idea either until a couple of hours when, in planning dinner this evening with a couple of very talented old friends, I was told that around 8PM they’d have to bail to go watch a “special sunset”. I quote,

yeah, tonight is the 2nd of 4 nights where the sun aligns directly in between the NYC streets from west to east…I want to catch it… best places to witness Manhattanhenge are 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th. ESB and Chrysler Building render 34th and 42nd particularly stunning.

@bendraperhoto

 Here’s an example from last night, apparently “a bust”:

So what is “Manhattanhenge” exactly? To my surprise, thanks to Wikipedia, it’s based on the same effect that happens at Stongehenge in the UK; which I’ve been to BTW (!),  but not during a sunset.

stonehenge

Manhattanhenge — sometimes referred to as the Manhattan Solstice — is a circumstance which occurs twice a year, during which the setting sun aligns with the east–west streets of the main street grid in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The neologism is derived from Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices with a similarly dramatic effect.

The word was popularized in 2002 by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History.

The term applies to those streets that follow the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which are laid out in a grid offset 29.0 degrees from true east–west. (The 29.0 degrees should be added to true east and west, making the western bearing approximately 299.0 degrees.)

During Manhattanhenge, an observer on one of the gridded east-west streets will see the sun setting over New Jersey directly opposite, from the street, along its centerline.

Super excited to check it out tonight! Will you be?

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