'Manhattanhenge' attracts New York spectators
May 31st, 2012
11:42 AM ET

'Manhattanhenge' attracts New York spectators

Waiting to see a full sun floating on the horizon, New York spectators instead found the urban phenomenon of “Manhattanhenge” a bit underwhelming Wednesday night.

This unique event happens when the sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan street grid. The sun creates 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,” Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson, who named the semi-annual event, said on the planetarium's website.

Georgina Castanon tried to see “Manhattanhenge” on Tuesday, but clouds foiled the photo shoot. But Wednesday night, she and hundreds of other New Yorkers had a little more success.

“We had beautiful light behind the clouds, and the orange glow reflected onto the buildings ... but that was it,” she wrote on CNN iReport. “The sun was covered by the clouds, but the experience of being with all these people was wonderful.”

Rachel Cauvin was surprised to see so many people on the overpass next to Grand Central Station waiting to snap a photo of the phenomenon.

“Taxi cabs and cars were all slowing down trying to figure out what these crazy New Yorkers were doing looking West on 42nd St towards New Jersey,” she said.

It was her first time seeing Manhattanhenge, and she found the experience didn’t quite meet her expectations. “It was a little disappointing because the skies were not clear and when the sun would have been dead center to the street, it went behind a huge cloud over New Jersey,” she said.

Luckily, the phenomenon will be visible again on July 11 and 12, so she’s keen to try again then. Here’s to hoping for better weather next time!

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. high point

    So apparently this occurs about 21 days before and after the sun reaches the highest point in our sky (June 20 this year). I wonder which city (if any) happens to align with the sun at the peak of this phenomenon, where the effect would occur only once, on June 20?

    June 1, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  2. LastManStanding

    It is good to know, but there is little practical value. If these galaxies have moved apart in the past, who knows what will happen in 4 billion years (e.g., they cannot even accurately predict wheather). Besides, if you believe in God, then you may find a different answer...

    May 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • KAS

      "It is good to know, but there is little practical value."

      Right, because everything has to be practical. There can't be anything that is neat, cool, whatever just because. Let me guess, you think the Mona Lisa or Faberge eggs are lame.

      "Besides, if you believe in God, then you may find a different answer..."

      You sure will, the wrong answer.

      June 1, 2012 at 8:46 am |
  3. fortunate

    @HW: Seems that 'unique' here is even less unique:
    "Luckily, the phenomenon will be visible again on July 11 and 12..."

    May 31, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  4. MkeLuv

    I'm sure that there were few, if any, New Yorkers standing on 42nd St to watch this. Just saying.

    May 31, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • stepk

      No, true NYers were up on the Upper West Side watching from a perch in CP. Not all NYers are as "cool" as you. In fact most of us enjoy the little things, like this, about the city that the press occassionally blow out of proportion for the tourists who want to experience being a NYer. Besides, most of the "NYers" who don't do these things are transplants who thing being "cool" is about being indifferent to the wonders of the city. Not the case for true NYers.

      June 1, 2012 at 9:04 am |
  5. NYres

    Saw it yesterday on 23rd. It was lame.

    May 31, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  6. guy with a correction

    "'Manhattanhenge': NYC nonplussed" Come on CNN, basic mistake. Nonplussed means perplexed by, not unimpressed.

    May 31, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Aashen

      blatantly stolen from the Oxford English Dictionary

      1 so surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react:
      Henry looked completely nonplussed
      2 (North American) informal not disconcerted; unperturbed.

      Thanks for playing.

      May 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
      • randoid1234

        BAHAHAHAHA! Nice.

        May 31, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
      • hmmm....

        What's funny? The OP was spot on with his definition. Unless you don't know that perplexed means confused.

        May 31, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
      • Kristin

        I scrolled down to the comments to see if someone had picked up on this. Thanks for being educated!

        May 31, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
      • Dhulfiqar

        Seems like they fixed it. People should really learn now to use a thesaurus properly.

        May 31, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • HW

      I'm more struck by "unique" suddenly meaning twice a year.

      "This unique event happens when the sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan street grid."

      May 31, 2012 at 3:31 pm |


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