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Thursday, December 01, 2022

What is Manhattanhenge? A curious solar phenomenon in NY

NEW YORK ( Associated Press) – This Monday and Tuesday, New Yorkers will be able to observe “Manhattanhenge,” a rare phenomenon in which the sun sets in such a way that it turns the city’s skyscrapers a blazing red.

The Associated Press explains some aspects of this curious phenomenon:

WHERE DOES THE NAME ‘MANHATTANHENGE’ COME FROM?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson coined it in 1997, in an article for Natural History magazine. Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History in New York, said he was inspired by a visit to Stonehenge as a teenager.

Tyson, a New Yorker by birth, felt that the visual spectacle created by the impact of the sun’s rays on Manhattan’s skyscrapers could be compared to the solar image at the center of Stonehenge’s circle at the solstice.

Unlike Stonehenge’s creators in the Neolithic era, however, the architects of Manhattan’s buildings did not intend to create a solar phenomenon. It just stayed that way.

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WHEN DOES MANHATTANHENGE HAPPEN?

Manhattanhenge does not occur on the exact solstice, which this year was on June 21. It occurs about three weeks before the solstice and then about three weeks after. It is on these dates that the sun sets at a perfect angle to the streets of Manhattan.

In 2022, the two dates for Manhattanhenge are 8:12 pm on May 30 and 8:20 pm on July 11. That’s when the sun shines through the buildings just before it sets over the Hudson River.

WHERE CAN YOU SEE MANHATTANHENGE?

In general, people flock to the widest streets in the city: 14, 23, 34, 42 and 57. The further east you are, the more dramatic the view will be as you can see more buildings from side and side. It can also be seen across the East River in Long Island City, Queens.

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ARE THERE PUBLIC EVENTS TO CELEBRATE MANHATTANHENGE?

Some happened. In 2018, for example, beverage company San Pellegrino hosted a “Manhattanhenge Exclusive Celebration” on a bridge over 42nd Street.

But generally, everyone sees it on their own. Half an hour before sunset, you can see people going out to take pictures of the sunset. And that’s only if the weather is favorable, as you can’t see Manhattanhenge on cloudy or rainy days.

ARE THERE OTHER CITIES WITH SIMILAR PHENOMENA?

Yes, some cities where the streets are straight and parallel. For example, there is “Chicagohenge” and “Baltimorehenge” when the sun sets at a perfect angle to the streets of these cities in March and September, when the spring and autumn equinoxes occur.

Torontohenge takes place on February 16th and October 25th.

But Manhattanhenge is particularly impressive due to the size of the buildings and the unobstructed view of the Hudson River.

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