"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
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.