[Perched over 42nd Street, NOVA scienceNOW host Neil deGrasse Tyson is eager to show you his hometown’s own version of a Stonehenge magic moment.]
Manhattanhedge, why has a super nerd like me not heard about this occurrence till now (thank you Jorge Hernandez)? It happens twice a year over a course of 2 days. The setting sun aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s city grid of streets. A bit before 8PM on May 29th and 30th in 2008, a ray of sun shoots across the island along Manhattan’s east-west corridors. It lasts until the sun disappears from the sky over New Jersey.
The one we can still catch this year occurs on July 11th and 12th, around 8:25pm. If Manhattan’s grid had been built aligned on the geographic north-south line, then the days of Manhattanhenge would be the spring and fall equinoxes. It occurs on other dates because Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east from geographic north (This last bit of information I learned thanks to Channel 13/WNET).
A bit of trivia you may need in the future, Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson (host of Nova’s ScienceNow), the guy on the video above coined the term Manhattanhedge. You never know around here when that may come up in local bar trivia. :)
Look to the sun.