It’s time for New Yorkers to get super excited about the sunset.
That’s because Manhattanhenge is upon us. It can produce, when the weather cooperates, four of New York City’s most spectacular sunsets.
The name is a New Yorker-style gesture Stonehenge, the ancient rock structure in the English countryside Which coincides with sunset and sunrise during the summer and winter solstices. This pre-modern monument was intentionally built for religious and spiritual reasons. In contrast, the New York City grid was not designed with sunset in mind, but ended up operating in a similar way. Over the course of four days each May and July, people can gather together to enjoy our special geographical position in the cosmos as the sun rests on the horizon, disappearing completely along the broad east west city corridors.
An event like Manhattanhenge can bring an entire town to a standstill, prompting people to celebrate the usual daily sunset.
As if New York couldn’t get any more magical, sunsets in Manhattanhenge illuminate the streets with a glow of deep tangerine and bubble pink, turning the bustling streets into a place to stop and say, “Wow.”
“It’s very famous because it’s such a wonderful sunset,” said Jackie Fahrty, chief scientist and astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. “The sun kisses the grid of one of the greatest cities, if not the largest in the world, and touches the entire concrete jungle lane with these stunning golden shapes. It’s a beautiful thing.”
What time is Manhattanhenge?
You’ll get four chances to see it – twice in the spring and twice in the summer, at either end of the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, on June 21.
On Memorial Day long weekend, Manhattanhenge spoke twice:
Sunday, May 29, half-sun at 8:13 p.m. ET.
Monday May 30, full sun at 8:12 p.m.
Then in July, you’ll get two more chances to see the perfect network sunset:
Monday, July 11, full sun at 8:20 p.m.
Tuesday, July 12, Half Sun at 8:21 p.m.
What is the difference between half sun and full sun?
According to Dr. Fahrty, it’s a small but meaningful distinction – half the sun would look as if the sun was cut in half and just grazing the horizon, while the full sun, where the full orb touches the pavement, is the true star of the show.
Why does Manhattanhenge happen?
We are able to witness this celestial event due to a combination of the approaching summer solstice, the grid design of the city, and the natural form the island of Manhattan took during the last Ice Age.
About 18,000 years ago, the massive ice sheet over North America began to melt, sculpting the island of Manhattan and the modern landscape on which the city is built.
“We think the island of Manhattan runs from north to south. But it doesn’t actually go north to south. It runs from northeast to southwest,” said Carol Krinksey, a historian of American architecture at New York University.
She said that this trend combined with the street design allows the Western Sun to set this view.
“The grid system was designed for Manhattan before there was an official city in New York,” Dr. Krinsky added. The The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 Putting 90-degree blocks into practice for the city’s official design. Perhaps not surprisingly, this is the basis of the real estate market: most homebuyers do not want to buy plots cut at odd angles.
So above 14th Street and below 155th Street, the city is divided into a grid. As the Earth tilts toward and then away from the sun during the summer solstice, the result is the beloved Manhattanhenge. It also shows how the structures built by people interact with the natural world.
“Things like this are closely related not only to the actual architecture of the universe around us, but also to our interaction with it,” said Columbia University astronomer Caleb Scharf. “The city is an extension of us.”
Dr. Scharf adds that just like Stonehenge, Manhattanhenge helps us find and understand patterns in our surroundings.
“At some point,” he said, “someone will ask, ‘Why is this happening? “Wait a minute, oh, the sun doesn’t stay in the same place on the horizon all the time. why is that?’ This can often lead to those “aha!” The moments when we suddenly feel this impulse to explain what we’re actually seeing, rather than just saying, “Oh, that’s cute.”
What are the best places to watch?
Fortunately, anywhere within the grid system above 14th Street can give you some kind of view.
You also need to get a clear view of New Jersey, and Dr. Fahrty adds, “You really have to be in the middle of the street to get the full effect, which is dangerous.”
Ideally, choose a street with wide avenues and an average that you can safely park and watch. If there is a large hill, your vision will be blocked.
Although almost everyone goes to 42nd Street, Dr. Fahrty recommends 72nd Street, instead. But if you want to join the crowds downtown, Pershing Square is a prime vantage point, as is the taxi line’s Grand Central station. While the NYPD tries to stop viewing there every year, the site is crowded by paparazzi and it can be very chaotic.
Manhattanhenge is also visible outside of Manhattan. In Brooklyn or Queens, Dr. Fuhrty says there are a variety of locations where you can see it right across the city into New Jersey. For the best off-island experience, she recommends Gantry State Park in Queens.
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