Thursday, July 12, 2007

Manhattanhenge addendum --from Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson of the Department of Astrophysics & Director, Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History sends this communication:

As you may know from my previous correspondence, Manhattanhenge occurs twice per year: The first near the Memorial Day Holiday. And the second near Baseball's All Star break.

My calculations show that second one occurs tomorrow, Friday, July 13, 2007. Event begins: 8:20PM. Sunset 8:27. At a cross-street near you.

See details here, which includes the content of my previous correspondence:

Note that, in principle, any city with a grid can identify days where the setting Sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose. Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as we have over New Jersey. And tall buildings that line the streets create a kind of brick and steel canyon to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity.

True, some municipalities have named streets after the Sun, like Sunrise Highway on Long Island and the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. But these roads are not perfectly straight. And the few times per year when the Sun aligns with one of their stretches of road, all you get is stalled traffic as drivers are temporarily blinded by the glare.

So I am almost inclined to declare that Manhattanhenge is a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe. But I still have a few more cities to check on.

As always, keep looking up -- except in this case, when you will be looking to the horizon.