Want to impress your boss at the water cooler tomorrow? If so, please read on…
Other than the usual hustle and bustle of a busy midweek day in the Big Apple; a very cool phenomenon will take place in the streets of New York City tomorrow courtesy of Mother Nature and the city’s founding fathers. So if you are down there whip out your cell phone camera or digital camera and enjoy the spectacular show of light—weather permitting of course! For all of our loyal bloggers who will be there, July 12 is one of 2 days during the year (May 28 is the other) where the sun will set exactly on the center line of every east-west running street on the island on Manhattan. About 15 minutes before the sun drops below the western horizon will be the best time for viewing (more photos). This phenomenon has been dubbed Manhattanhenge in honor of Stonehenge – where the sun sets in exact alignment with every stone in that ancient formation during the summer solstice.
Why does this occur? Primarily this occurs because the east-west streets are aligned or rotated exactly 30 degrees east of geographic north. If the designed grid of Manhattan’s streets were aligned with true geographic north then these special days would occur on the equinox and solstice. The equinox is when the sun rises and sets due east and due west, respectively. However, since the city’s planners designed the grid to run consistent with the island’s geographic position then these two special days are shifted. If New York’s streets were aligned with true north then on the days of the equinox the sun would be directly in your eyes.
Similarly, there are two mornings during the year on which the sun rises exactly on the center lines of the east-west streets of the Manhattan grid – these days are usually December 5 and January 8.
If any of our friends happen to snap a few photos of the sun’s show please email them to us and we will publish them with full credits.