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May 28, 2004

Sunset in Manhattan

NYC sunset

YOU ALWAYS HOPE it's clear in New York City on May 28th and July 12th because Manhattan floods with sunlight precisely down the centerline of every street. The skyscrapers that line the gridded streets of NYC's tallest boroughs normally block the setting sun. It's important to remember not to look directly at the sun when enjoying these sunsets.

The 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, the spectacular sunsets 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.

Astronomy Picture of the Day -- "Manhattan sunset" picture by Neil de Grasse Tyson
Natural History Magazine -- "Sunset on 34th Street Along the Manhattan Grid"


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