Today is the first of two dates when the sun sets aligned with New York’s east-west street grid. Known as ManhattanHenge, the name derives from the famous structure “StoneHenge”, located in Wiltshire, England, where neolithic man marked the passage of the seasons with stone monoliths aligned with the seasonal changes of the sun’s rising and setting positions. These two days happen to correspond with the US Memorial Day holiday. For these two days, as the Sun sets on Manhattan’s grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon. If you’re in Manhattan and wish to observe MannhattanHenge, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible for best effect. Make sure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey otherwise you will not see the setting sun. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, and several adjacent streets. The Empire State building located at 34th Steet and 5th Avenue and the Chrysler building at 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue make for especially striking vistas.
For this year, the schedule is:
Half Sun on the Grid
- Sunday, May 29 8:12 P.M. EDT
- Tuesday, July 12 8:20 P.M. EDT
Full Sun on the Grid
- Monday, May 30 8:12 P.M. EDT
- Monday, July 11 8:20 P.M. EDT
At an azimuth of 298º, the sun sets 28º north of west and there is no astronomical or other scientific significance to this except that the sun’s azimuth upon its setting is aligned with the azimuth of New York’s east-west street grid.
Imagination is more important than knowledge
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