When the sun sets on Stonehenge on the shortest day of the year, it’s rays align with several important stones. Twice a year, the streets of Manhattan also line up with the setting sun, a phenomenon dubbed “Manhattanhenge”. Really, most cities with grid systems will see a similar effect (though it’s most dramatic in cities with tall buildings and a view of the true horizon). You can use a great tool called The Photographer’s Ephemeris to find out the “henge” dates for your city grid - or even individual streets.
Yesterday, (Friday, January 24th) the sun lined up with New York Avenue, a street in DC that runs diagonally up to the White House. (The orange line indicates alignment with the setting sun).
I went out with our multimedia intern Meg Vogel, and captured some images of the sun setting in line with a rather Stonehenge-y sculpture that sits in the middle of that street.
Here are dates for sunset “henge” events in some cities this year:
Manhattan May 25th, July 17th
Philadelphia April 5th, September 6th
Washington DC March 18th, September 24th
Chicago March 16th, September 26th
Phoenix March 20th, September 22nd
Portland, OR March 18th, September 24th
Is your city/town a grid? When’s your henge?