MAY 29, 2014

Nerd Alert! Get excited for Manhattanhenge!




Copyright © 2001, Neil deGrasse Tyson
by Neil deGrasse Tyson, © 2001-2014

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 2014 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.

Manhattanhenge Times For 2014

Arrive a half-hour earlier than the times given below.

For best effect, 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.

Half Sun on the Grid Full Full on the Grid
Thursday, May 29 8:16 P.M. EDT Friday, May 30 8:18 P.M. EDT
Saturday, July 12 8:25 P.M. EDT Friday, July 11 8:24 P.M. EDT
manhattanhenge-half-sun-mock-up_medium manhattanhenge-full-sun-mock-up_medium



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