America

Manhattanhenge: The Sun, The City And A Special Rendezvous

Manhattanhenge in July 2009.

hide captionManhattanhenge in July 2009.

Dan Nguyen/via Flickr

At sunset tonight Manhattan's grid will match up perfectly with the sun, producing a dazzling, golden display on each one of the city's streets.

It happens twice a year and it's been termed "Manhattanhenge," coined by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History.

NPR's Margo Adler sent this report for our Newscast unit:

"Tyson, in an essay, wondered what future generations would think of Manhattan when they dig it up, and find a carefully laid grid of streets and avenues. Surely they will think there is astronomical significance, as they do with Stonehenge.

"This evening and July 12th are the days for Manhattanhenge for 2012. On these evenings the setting sun will illuminate both sides of every cross street in Manhattan, the wide ones, like 57th and 14th are considered the best views. On the following day says Tyson you can see the entire ball of the sun as it sets looking east on these cross streets. Tyson, tongue in cheek, says since they happen to coincide this year with Memorial Day and the All Star game, future anthropologists may come believe we worship baseball and battle."

And just in case you're wondering, other cities — Chicago, Toronto, Washington among them — see similar displays every year. You can use The Photographer's Ephemeris, a free application for your computer, to find a date in a city near you.

Flickr also has quite a collection of photographs from years past.

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