Manhattanhenge will illuminate the skies of New York City on Memorial Day, The event takes place when the sun lines up with the streets of Manhattan. This is possible because roadways in that portion of the city are aligned in a grid, where avenues run north and south, while streets are laid out west to east.
Two times a year, our parent star lines up perfectly with the streets that run west to east during sunset. When this occurs, each near the summer solstice, skyscrapers are adorned with rich red light. This year, the two-day events take place on May 29 and 30, as well as July 11 and 12. During the Memorial Day occurrence, the sun will be seen as a half-circle. In July, the entire disk of the sun will be seen as the Big Apple is bathed in light.
Like Stonehenge in England, the skyscrapers of Manhattan appear to be perfectly positioned to create the display on certain dates. However, unlike that ancient structure, this borough of New York was not designed to capture the sun's rays in this fashion. The effect is due to designs created during the 19th century.
"In the 1800s when they made these 90-degree angles they created a bull's-eye for the sun to hit. Manhattanhenge are the days of the year when the sun hits the bull's-eye," said Jackie Faherty of the American Museum of Natural History.
New York City is not alone in creating this phenomenon, and various cityhenges take place in urban areas around the world. Some of the better-known include Bostonhenge, Chicagohenge, Phillyhenge, Montrealhenge. In fact, similar occurrences can take place in any city where roadways run more-or-less west to east.
However, times of the events change from place to place. People wishing to view their local cityhenge should consult a local planetarium for the best time to go outdoors. Alternatively, several apps are available that allow users to track the position of the sun at various times throughout the day.
Stonehenge was constructed by Druids more than 5,000 years ago, as a means of worshiping our local star. During the modern age, in the center of the nation's Financial District, New Yorkers and tourists of the city will once again be looking to the sun.