Manhattanhenge and More Science Wonders

Last Sunday, the Manhattan streets were suddenly blinded with light as the sun dripped directly between the buildings. I was on 34th Street, where the road angles up to a hill, and it was extraordinary to look down towards New Jersey where the huge orb of the sun cast rays that gleamed off the Empire State Building.

Manhattanhenge, as it is gloriously called, happens semiannually when the sunset perfectly lines up with the east-west streets in the Manhattan grid (like how Stonehenge is aligned with the solstices). After going up to Astoria again to take care of my friend’s cat and meet another friend for delicious French food, I decided to stop in Manhattan on the way back to Brooklyn to see this astronomical urban phenomenon. I heard that 34th Street was a good place to watch, and dove out from the subway into the mad crowds of Herald Square and then climbed to the summit of the street.

Watching the other Manhattanhenge worshipers was almost as mindblowing as the sunset itself. People were going a little insane, actually jumping into traffic to set up tripods and take pictures while taxis careened around them. I even heard someone say to their friend that they could watch in the “median,” pointing to the double yellow line painted on the street. I settled for pictures of the Manhattanhenge from an angle, rather than risking my poorly insured limbs and life. I did see it dead center, though, when the light turned green and I could walk across the street. It was beautiful.

The next day was Memorial Day, and I went to a roof party at a friend’s place in Crown Heights. It was lovely to spend an afternoon in the sun listening to music, surrounded by Brooklyn buildings. Lovely to not be in front of a computer. Lovely to know that I live here.

Last week was Science Week, and although I couldn’t make it (or afford) to go to the events, I did see the James Webb Space Telescope that was set up in Battery Park. Well, not the actual telescope, but rather a true-to-size model of it, accompanied by scientists who explained its every intricacy to curious visitors. It is planned to be launched in 2014, and the infrared-optimized telescope is expected to be able to find the first galaxies that formed the universe, stars forming, and many other wonderful things that are too distant for the current space telescopes to see.

I also went to an opening at the National Arts Club by Gramercy Park. I had never walked over there; it’s like suddenly you’re in London. There’s a private park in the middle that I walked around (I need to make friends with someone who can get in). The exhibit itself was very pretty two-dimensional flower works, and the opening was teeming with well-traveled people from the Explorers Club. So many clubs one could join! The National Arts Club was beautiful, like an old mansion complete with a bar where people seemed to be waiting for the next Orient Express or some other upscale adventure.

Today was the first of my 10 hour workdays that are going to be standard through July. Since I’m working at a university, we get Fridays off in the summer. However, I need to keep earning a whole week’s wage, so I’ve adjusted my hours to work 40 hours in 4 days. Hope I’m not going to regret this.

6 thoughts on “Manhattanhenge and More Science Wonders

  1. m says:

    nice post! I love the photos

  2. Kat says:

    Did you come up with this term? I love it, I love the photos and understand how light can make a place so magical. Brilliant.

  3. Allie says:

    Sadly, I cannot claim this awesome name. I believe it was made up by Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Hayden Planetarium. I’ll have to wait to coin my own natural phenomenon.

  4. Robert Reid says:

    Great site Allie — and from a fellow Okie expat in NY Land! Didn’t know about the Manhattanenge before. Always something new about NYC you don’t know.

  5. julia says:

    salut alison ça fait plaisir de pouvoir voir quelques photos??? j’espère que tu vas bien et que tu fais ce que tu aimes!!!
    une pensée de France, prends soin de toi!!!
    des bises

  6. Allie says:

    Robert: Thanks for checking out my blog!! Manhattanhenge is happening again in July.

    Julia: Salut!! Oui, je vais bien, mais Valence me manque. Et toi aussi! Si tu visite New York, tu es toujours bienvenue chez moi. J’ai envie de retourner en France.

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