Arcane Fire

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Manhattanhenge ≥ Stonehenge

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Yesterday was Manhattanhenge, the urban phenomenon for when the sun aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s grid.  Apparently, to the get the best glimpse of sunset you’re supposed to walk as far east as possible and arrive a half-hour before the designated time to watch the sunset.  In between commercials of The Bachelorette (roughly around 8:15pm), I snuck out of my apartment to take a peak.  I saw nothing.  Was I doing it wrong?  Was I too late. Too early?   Luckily for me (and for us?) July 11-12th offer another chance to bask in the glory of this Significant Astronomical Event.  The Hayden Planetarium writes:

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 2011 they fall on May 30th, 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.

Photo Source: Gothamist


Written by doorr

May 31, 2011 at 10:41 pm

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