Manhattanhenge 2014: New York's answer to Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

The term was coined by US astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson
  • @kashmiragander

On Thursday evening, swathes of New Yorkers and bewildered tourists will take a moment to gaze up at Manthattanhenge: the bustling city’s answer to Summer Solstice at Stonehenge.

Manhattanhenge is the arguably bigger, better, all-American cousin of its Somerset namesake, where druids flock to watch the sun rise in perfect alignment with the neolithic pillars during the spring equinox.

As the New York district sits around 30 degrees east from due north, Manhattanhenge sees the sun align precisely with the district's carefully planned street grid, but falls on 29 May and 12 July instead of the spring and autumn equinoxes.

Streets which are said to give the best views are: 14th, 23rd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. Photos look particularly impressive shot between 34th and 42nd, where the iconic Empire State and Chrysler buildings will frame the sun.

As the sun begins to set at around 8:16pm ET, it will appear as a glowing semi-circle between the skyscrapers which make up the Manhattan skyline.

Friday’s sunset, although not an official Manhattanhenge, will also offer spectacular views, as at 8:18pm ET the sun will appear as an enormous globe in the sky.

The term Manhattanhenge was coined in 1996 by popular US astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium, Neil de Grasse Tyson.

In his explanation of phenomenon, Tyson jokes that academics of the future will link the celestial event with Memorial Day (26 May) Baseball's All Star Day (16 July), in the same way modern-day archaeologists mark a significance between Stonehenge and the Summer Solstice.

“Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball,” quips Tyson.