NYC Sunset

Manhattan Sunset

Stonehenge In The City
By Michael Pollak

Stonehenge Sunset

Q. I've heard about a "Manhattan solstice," when the sun supposedly lines up along the streets. Is it for real? When does it happen?

Manhattan Stonehenge

A. Here's the lowdown on the sundown, courtesy of Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History. Next Sunday and on July 13, the sun will fully illuminate every Manhattan cross street (not the curved or angled ones) on the street grid during the last 15 minutes of daylight, and it will set on each street's center line. The sight is breathtaking.

This is a special photo opportunity, with parts of Manhattan's canyons getting illumination they normally don't get.

If the Manhattan street grid ran north-south and east-west, the alignment days would be the spring and fall equinoxes, the two days when the sun rises due east and sets due west. But the Manhattan grid is angled 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days.

There are two corresponding mornings of sunrise right on the center lines of the Manhattan grid, Dr. Tyson wrote in an e-mail message: Dec. 5, 2006, and Jan. 8, 2007.