Manhattanhenge begins tonight at 8:17

What’s that, you don’t know what Manhattanhenge is?  Allow me to explain.

Every year, the sun rises and sets due east and due west only twice, on the spring and fall equinoxes.  The rest of the year it rises and sets slightly to the north or slightly to the south.  The streets and buildings of the Manhattan grid are aligned at a 30 degree angle, or in other words don’t run directly north and south.  If they did, than one the spring and fall equinoxes you would be able to see the sun set perfectly down the street.  Since they are slightly off line, the sun sets perfectly through the streets on two random days each year.  Tonight is the first of those two random times.  Follow?

How about this: twice each year the sun sets like this:

image: flickr / 4rilla

The rest of the time it’s hiding behind the buildings.  It causes a unique effect similar to that of Stonehenge on the equinoxes, which is where it gets its name, Manhattanhenge.

If you’re going to be on our night tour tonight at 8:17 or tomorrow at 8:16, make sure you look at New Jersey and take a picture.  It will be worth it.

For more detailed information on Manhattanhenge or how the sun works in relation to our island, check out the Hayden Planetarium’s website.

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