Stonehenge is the peculiar arrangement of stones in the south of England that not much are known about. The stones have been there for centuries, and they are arranged to have astronomical and timekeeping significance. It is probably one of the world’s greatest mysteries — who erected Stonehenge and why? The director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, Mr. Neil deGrasse Tyson coined a term that is growing in popularity by mashing the ancient Stonehenge with modern day Manhattan. The word is “Manhattanhenge” and it refers to a rare phenomenon when the city streets of New York become an astronomical device in their own right.
“Manhattanhenge” is nothing supernatural and no reason to go troll the conspiracy forums. Twice a year, the sun lines up just right with the street grid of Manhattan to allow the sun glow vibrantly as it crosses and illuminates every street in the grid. This year, the big days are May 29 and July 12. On those days, the phenomenon will capture many New Yorker’s attention. The city streets were not designed with the so-called “Manhattan solstice” in mind. In fact, no matter how it sits, the effect would still happen, but at different times of the year. Manhattan’s street grid of squares is what makes it possible. The effect will be most pronounced on the actual days, but it will be noticeable the days before and after as well.
Some people wonder if one day centuries from now, our descendants will uncover remnants of Manhattan and believe that it was designed to have some sort of astronomical significance, like the stones at Stonehenge. Or maybe they will be far more advanced than we are and know exactly what “Manhattanhenge” was all about.