It is dubbed “Manhattanhenge” and happens semiannually when the sun aligns at dusk with streets in a glowing magic trick as rays of sunlight span across New York perfectly, from west to east.
“Manhattanhenge may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world,” says astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, of the American Museum of Natural History, who officially discovered the phenomenon.
The name “Manhattanhenge” is a play on Manhattan, this city’s most famous borough, and Stonehenge, the megalithic monument in southern England with large stone blocks set out in concentric circles.
At Stonehenge, the sun crosses the site’s central axis during the summer and winter solstices, leading experts to speculate that the site could have been used as a sort of sun calendar, as well as for religious ceremonies.
But in Manhattan, the phenomenon takes place before and after the summer solstices when at dusk but before sunset, the sun neatly matches up with the even-numbered streets running west and east, sending out fingers of light.
“As a kid I visited Stonehenge in the Salisbury Plain of England and did research on other stone monuments across the British Isles,” deGrasse Tyson told AFP.
“So I was, in a way, imprinted by the emotional power that terrestrial alignments with the sun can have on a culture or civilization.”
“Any city crossed by a rectangular grid can identify days where the setting sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities around the world shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose,” he stressed.
DeGrasse Tyson first started thinking about the “Manhattanhenge” effect back in 1996. It was not until five years later, July 2001, that he took a photo of the sun-meets-skyscrapers display.
It and others were published in 2002 in a special edition of Natural History Magazine called “City of Stars,” he said. And the effect began to become better known.
1. align v.
對齊 (dui4 qi1)
例: The various parts of the machine are not aligning properly.
2. speculate v.
預測 (yu1 ce4)
例: It’s still too early to speculate about which candidate will win the election.
3. effect n.
效應 (xiao4 ying4)
例: What sort of effect do you think these changes will have in the near future?
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