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Sunny delight in city sight

"Manhattanhenge" occurs Sunday, a day when a happy

coincidence of urban planning and astrophysics results in the setting sun

lining up exactly with every east-west street in the borough north of 14th

Street.

Similar to Stonehenge, which is directly aligned with the summer-solstice

sun, "Manhattanhenge" catches the sun descending in perfect alignment between

buildings. The local phenomenon occurs twice a year, on May 28 and July 12.

"People never stop to think that this will happen, but it's happening this

Sunday, so take the opportunity to appreciate it," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, an

astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History. "New Yorkers need to

take advantage of as many opportunities to look at the sky as they can get."

If the streets of Manhattan were lined up in true east-west lines, as

Stonehenge is, the sun would set directly along them on June 21. But what New

Yorkers commonly call "east" and "west" are actually about 30 degrees off.

"It was a disturbing day when I learned everything we call 'north' in New

York is actually northeast," Tyson said. "But what we are left with is an

inadvertent homage to the sky."

The astrophysicist also pointed out some people wishing to appreciate

Manhattanhenge mistakenly stand on 12th Avenue and end up watching the sun set

over New Jersey.

The real spectacle, of course, is reserved for those who stand on First

Avenue and gaze west as the sun sets neatly between the buildings.

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