In 2014, Manhattanhenge occurs twice — and one of those two glorious times will be tonight, so mark your calendars, city dwellers!
Never heard of Manhattanhenge? Well, it turns out that sky shows aren’t strictly limited to areas of low light pollution.
And Manhattanite Neil deGrasse Tyson — who you may know from a show called Cosmos — has been praising the natural phenomenon for years, as detailed on the official blog of the American Museum of Natural History.
Dr. Tyson explains why Manhattanhenge is a cool thing for astronomy-loving New Yorkers frequently — and while he hasn’t yet boosted the signal for Manhattanhenge 2014 on Twitter, he has updated his cover photo to depict the event.
Over on the AMNH blog, Dr. Tyson waxes lyrical about one of New York City’s most romantic sky sights, first explaining when you can catch Manhattanhenge and how it happens:
“For Manhattan, a place where evening matters more than morning, that special day comes twice a year. For 2014 they fall on May 29th, and July 12th, when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid.”
The host of Cosmos continues, musing that the naturally occurring phenomenon could puzzle scholars centuries down the line due to its timing:
“A rare and beautiful sight. These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.”
First, the astrophysicist addresses where to view Manhattanhenge best, explaining that for at least once in your life, you should look at New Jersey on purpose:
“For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas.”
As for when, Tyson advises arriving half an hour early to your eastern Manhattanhenge viewing destination to see the half and full sun versions of the natural phenomenon:
Half Sun on the Grid
Thursday, May 29 8:16 P.M. EDT
Saturday, July 12 8:25 P.M. EDT
Full Sun on the Grid
Friday, May 30 8:18 P.M. EDT
Friday, July 11 8:24 P.M. EDT
You can get a the full scoop on Manhattanhenge 2014 over on the AMNH blog, written by NDT himself.
[Image: Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Twitter]