This weekend was “Manhattanhenge,” a term popularized by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, to describe the solar event where the sunset is lined up with the east-west streets on Manhattan’s grid. Mr. Tyson argues that this is perhaps a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.
Crowds, armed with cameras, gather on the avenues. The best views are the major cross streets in Manhattan: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, among others.
Manhattan’s grid, adopted by the city in 1811, is set 28.9 degrees east from due north. If it had been aligned due north, the effect would be seen on the spring and autumn equinoxes, when the sun sets on the east-west line. Instead, because of Manhattan’s tilt, those now take place about three weeks before and about three weeks after June 21, the summer solstice, the official beginning of summer.
On Saturday, May 30, around 8:17 p.m, the sun was half above the horizon, half below. At the same time on Sunday, May 31, the full sun was visible just above the horizon. The next one is just weeks away — on July 11 and 12. (The image above: manhattanhenge 2009was originally uploaded by mudpig.)