Thursday, May 31, 2012

Trying To Shoot "Manhattanhenge"

7:45 PM. Just got off the 6 train at 33rd at Park Avenue. I've come to try to take pictures the 2nd of the 2 days of the 1st "Manhattanhenge" of 2012 - those unusual days when the light of the sun at sunset is perfectly aligned with Manhattan's east-west grid. This looks promising, right?
BTW, click on any picture for a better look.

One block north to the wider 34th street and...hmmm, yes, something tells me that this may be a good spot.

Wow. Now there's someone who's gonna get a good shot if it kills him. Maybe literally, even.

 Hey! I'm framin' here! I'm framin' here!

Yes, this will do. This will do nicely. 

Early bird continues to line up the perfect shot

At first the rest of us just run in to set up our own shots while we have the walk sign - 

but gradually, more and more stay out there with the first guy when the light changes

The crowd grows with every moment 

Say "Gnomon!" 

As sunset approaches - 

a line of photographers begins to form on the painted median strip. 

 Sun's getting very close to appearing now - 
and now there's a solid line all the way down the block. 

 And ah! the sun appears! 

 There it is, shining, peeping into view for the quickest moment before...oh nooooo!
slipping behind a low-lying bank of clouds that's been waiting there all along to spoil the moment itself. Awwww!

Still, something of a festival mood has been established, and although the evening's main attraction isn't going to happen, we're not being very quick about relinquishing the street.  

Finally the police show up to shoo people back onto the sidewalks - nothing rough, just one pair of officers who work their way slowly down 34th street telling people to get out of the street before they get hit by a car. Almost wonder why the city doesn't bow to the inevitable & just block off a stretch of 34th street for a half-hour or so. At least they DID hold off the shooing away until the sunset was done. 

And even without Manhattanhenge really happening this time, it was still a very nice sunset - and watching the people gather to watch (and shoot) the spectacle was a pretty great spectacle in and of itself!

Guess I'll have to go back in July! 


Tillerman said...

The ancient druids who laid out Manhattanhenge weren't as smart as the builders of Stonehenge. The Manhattanhenge grid is not aligned anywhere near to a perfect east-west direction. If it were you would be taking these pictures in March and September.

bonnie said...

Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astronomer for the American Museum of Natural History has written an interesting article about the alignment and notices something relevant:

"These two days happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball's All Star break. Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball."

Coincidence? Hmmmm...

Here's a link to the article, which includes a photo of what it looks like when it DOES happen.

Tillerman said...

Great article.

bonnie said...

I got more compliments because of that article - people who didn't know what was going on would stop and ask, I'd parrot a few lines I'd picked up from reading that article earlier in the day, and although there were a couple of too-school-for-cool types who thought the whole thing was dumb, mostly people were saying "You're so well-informed!"

Tillerman said...

Your post and the Neil DeGrasse Tyson article made me realize something. My house must be aligned with Manhattanhenge.

Our house faces somewhat north of west across Mount Hope Bay. The most prominent landmark on the land on the other side of the bay is a water tower in Bristol RI. We always refer to it as "the ball" and every summer watch the position of the setting sun as it moves further north each day. For a short while in summer the sun sets north of "the ball." I noticed tonight that the sun is now setting north of the ball. It must have crossed it some time earlier this week.

So is this evidence that the inhabitants of Tivertonhenge worship Baseball and War?