Just As I Thought

A modern Stonehenge

Two times a year, May 28 and July 12, the sun lines up in such a way that the sun appears to set on the center line of every street in Manhattan. Today’s NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day shows what it’s like when this happens.

Usually, the tall buildings that line the gridded streets of New York City’s tallest borough will hide the setting Sun. This effect makes Manhattan a type of modern Stonehenge, although only aligned to about 30 degrees east of north. Were Manhattan’s road grid perfectly aligned to east and west, today’s effect would occur on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinox, March 21 and September 21, the only two days that the Sun rises and sets due east and west. If today’s sunset is hidden by clouds do not despair — the same thing happens every May 28 and July 12. On none of these occasions, however, should you ever look directly at the Sun.

Those of you in New York, please report back your observations!

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