SUNSET ON THE MANHATTAN GRID
East side of Manhattan
Monday, May 30, 8:17, and Tuesday, July 12, 8:25 pm
Tonight at 8:17, the sun will align with Manhattan’s off-center (by thirty degrees) grid to send spectacular bursts of sunlight streaming across the streets. Coined by master astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium director Neil deGrasse Tyson in 2002, Manhattanhenge takes place twice a year; for 2011, those dates are May 30 and July 12 (at 8:35), when the sun will create “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,” Tyson explains on the planetarium website. “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.” Photographers will be lining up along the city’s wider thoroughfares on the east side, including Twenty-third, Thirty-fourth, Forty-second, and Fifty-seventh Sts., trying to capture that exact moment when the sun is half above the horizon, half below it. Wrongly called the Manhattan Solstice, the event “may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe,” Tyson explains. Back in 1973, Bruce Springsteen wrote, “Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun,” but he was sure to add, “Oh, but Mama that’s where the fun is.” Tonight starting a little after eight, that is indeed where the fun is.