New York City - Solar Alignment Leaves Manhattan Looking Like a Modern-day Stonehenge
New York City - For just 15 minutes the sun sets in exact alignment with the cross streets of Manhattan’s street grid, making the city’s towering building look something like a modern-day Stonehenge.
While we have long-marvelled at the beauty of our prehistoric monument in the Salisbury plains of England, Americans have been in awe of the unique urban phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge.
Twice a year the sun aligns to bathe the city in glowing light.
As the sun sets over the American city on these special days, streets on the Manhattan grid are illuminated in a way that has been compared to the solstice at Stonehenge.
On Saturday, New Yorkers witnessed the stunning lightshow as the setting sun threw flares of bright orange-red hues down streets.
Every single cross-street was tinged with orange sunlight for the last fifteen minutes of the day.
The second opportunity to see the phenomenon comes later in the summer with another half-sphere sunset on Sunday, July 12.
It applies to those streets that follow the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 which laid out a grid offset 28.9 degrees from true east-west.
The term Manhattanhenge was coined in 2002 by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History.
Had they been set directly on the east-west line, the phenomenon would coincide with the spring and autumn equinoxes.
New York isn’t the only city that can have its own ‘henge’ events.
Any city crossed by a rectangular grid has days where the setting sun aligns with the streets.
But Manhattan, with its clear view of the horizon and straight streets, offers one of the best shows around.
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