What is Manhattanhenge and where can you see it? The curious solar phenomenon that fascinates New York

What is Manhattanhenge and where can you see it? The curious solar phenomenon that fascinates New York

This Monday and Tuesday the inhabitants of the city of New York they will be able to observe the “Manhattanhenge”, a unique phenomenon in which the sunset occurs in such a way that it dyes the city’s skyscrapers an incandescent red.

WHERE DOES THE NAME ‘MANHATTANHENGE’ COME FROM?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson coined it in 1997, in an article for Natural History magazine. Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the New York Museum of Natural History, has said that he was inspired by a visit he made to Stonehenge as a teenager.

Tyson, a New Yorker by birth, thought that the visual spectacle created by the impact of the sun’s rays on the skyscrapers of Manhattan could be compared to the solar image at the center of the Stonehenge circle at the solstice.

Unlike the creators of Stonehenge in the Neolithic era, however, the architects of the Manhattan buildings have no intention of creating a solar phenomenon. It just turned out that way.

WHEN DOES MANHATTANHENGE HAPPEN?

Manhattanhenge does not occur on the exact solstice, which this year occurred on June 21. It occurs about three weeks before the solstice and then about three weeks after. It is on those dates that the sun sets at a perfect angle with the streets of Manhattan.

In 2022, the two dates for the Manhattanhenge are at 8:12 pm on May 30 and at 8:20 pm on July 11. That’s when the sun shines through the buildings just before setting over the Hudson River.

WHERE CAN YOU SEE THE MANHATTANHENGE?

In general, people gather on the widest streets of the city: 14, 23, 34, 42 and 57. The further east you are, the more dramatic the view will be since you will be able to see more buildings from the side and side. It can also be seen across the East River in Long Island City, Queens.

ARE THERE PUBLIC EVENTS TO CELEBRATE EL MANHATTANHENGE?

Some have happened. In 2018, for example, the San Pellegrino beverage company hosted a “Manhattanhenge Exclusive Celebration” on a bridge over 42nd Street.

But generally, everyone sees it on their own. Half an hour before sunset, you can see people going out to take photos of the sunset. And that’s only if the weather is favorable, because you can’t see the Manhattanhenge on cloudy or rainy days.

ARE THERE OTHER CITIES WITH SIMILAR PHENOMENA?

Yes, some cities where the streets are straight and parallel. For example, there is “Chicagohenge” and “Baltimorehenge” when the sun sets at a perfect angle to the streets of those cities in March and September when the spring and fall equinoxes occur.

Torontohenge takes place on February 16 and October 25.

But Manhattanhenge is particularly impressive due to the size of the buildings and the unobstructed view of the Hudson River.

Ben Oakley
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