Spectacular Lighting Just Twice a Year: Don’t Miss Manhattanhenge

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Photo: Steve Kelley

Photo: Steve Kelley

Seeking out uniquely spectacular lighting is a good bet for capturing stunning imagery.
May 29th, yesterday, was one of the two days of the year when our friendly neighborhood star, the sun, sets perfectly in-line with the Manhattan grid. Bi-annually, photographers in the big apple take advantage of this unique moment in our solar system. Click through the image tabs above to see some shots of New York in a new, er, light.

Manhattanhenge, as it was termed by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, is a result of Manhattan’s grid not being aligned with the geographic north-south or east-west lines. Instead, according to Dr. deGrasse, it’s angled 30 degrees east of geographic north. This angle causes Manhattanhenge to occur 22 days before the summer solstice, and again 21 days after (that’s July 12th this year). The neologism is derived from Wiltshire England’s Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices with a similarly dramatic effect.

Those of you in Manhattan, who missed yesterday’s event, never fear – you have another chance for great photos today. The phenomenon continues (albeit slightly off for Manhattanhenge purists) into today as a “full sun,” event. According to Wikipedia’s definition of the event the phenomenon actually extends into today.

And for all of you no where near New York today, like me, the challenge is to go out and find some uniquely spectacular lighting. It’s out there.

18 Responses to Spectacular Lighting Just Twice a Year: Don’t Miss Manhattanhenge

  1. Anonymous May 30, 2012 at 11:03 am #

    like me gusta la foto

  2. Scott Reither May 30, 2012 at 11:28 am #

    I LOVE this first image! Now that is sweet-light!!

    One of my most rewarding captures is from a pier in La Jolla, California – same kinda thing as this, where you have a couple days a year where you can capture the sun setting directly down the corridor. It essentially took me 4 years to get this shot! Check it out: http://www.scottreither.com/details.php?prodId=65&category=5

  3. Christian May 30, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Wow! Steve Kelly did a nice job there. Are there any more of those beautiful events happening across the US or NY?

    Quite intriguing that Manhattanhenge :)

  4. Brad May 30, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    I wonder if, centuries from now, ancient astronaut theorists will decide that there must have been some significance to those two dates for us to have built our city that way?

  5. faisal May 31, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    Excellent image (the first one), very well shot and the light is awesome ;-)

  6. RvF May 31, 2012 at 7:36 am #

    Fascinating, perfect light for been out and about with the camera:-)

  7. Jeff Davis May 31, 2012 at 10:40 am #

    So I was trying to figure out a way to determine when this would happen in other locations and I found the NOAA Solar Calculator. It takes a little trial an error but it draws a nice line on a Google Map that shows the direction of the sun.



  8. Adam Haworth June 2, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    Wow spectacular images, the light is just beautiful.

  9. Christy Harper June 2, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    wonderful images, gives me an idea :) Thanks !!

  10. DanielKphoto June 6, 2012 at 9:45 am #

    Wow, “What light through yonder streets breaks”, absolutely stunning! Couple of wonderful shots among these!

    Thanks a lot for sharing :)

  11. Famous Photographer June 10, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Very great shot timing! This pictures are simply stunning.

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    Great post, thanks for writing it.

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