Yes, I missed the Supermoon because of fog, and the Transit of Venus because of cloud cover, but tonight was going to be different. Tonight I was going to see Manhattanhenge for the very first time. Manhattanhenge, for the uninitiated, is a phrase coined by the director of the Haydn Planetarium, Neil deGrasse Tyson, to describe the perfect alignment of the setting sun with Manhattan’s grid. It happens twice a year, and for ten minutes on those two very special days, you can see the sun set right in between the towering skyscrapers of wider streets such as 14th, 34th and 42nd Street as you look towards Jersey. Yesterday, the full sun set on the grid – but I couldn’t see it because I was doing a show as the sun went down. Tonight, however, I had the opportunity to watch the half sun on the grid so I arrived early and bagged my spot to watch the spectacle. The sun glinted along the buildings as it began its descent.

manhattanhenge 2012

Here comes the sun, I am so ready to see my first Manhattanhenge

manhattanhenge 2012

Crowds begin to gather

manhattanhenge 2012

The sun peeks around the edge of the buildings…. along with a bunch of clouds…

manhattanhenge 2012

Are you kidding me? Not again. Noooooo!

manhattanhenge 2012


manhattanhenge 2012

I’m starting to take this personally

manhattanhenge 2012


This is what it looked like yesterday, when I wasn’t there.

If I had been there, I’m almost certain that cloud cover would have obscured it.

About ailsapm

Hi there! I’m Ailsa Prideaux-Mooney. I’ve lived in many places, and travelled to many more. I had a lot of fun getting there and being there, wherever there happened to be at the time. I climbed a castle wall in Czesky Krumlov, abseiled down cliffs to go caving in the west of Ireland, slept on the beach in Paros, got chased by a swarm of bees in Vourvourou (ok that wasn’t fun, but it was exciting), learned flower arranging in Tokyo, found myself in the middle of a riot in Seoul, learned to snowboard in Salzburg, got lost in a labyrinth in Budapest and had my ice cream stolen by a gull in Cornwall. And I’m just getting started. If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read so far, I’d love you to follow my travelogue - - and remember, anyone who tries to tell you it’s a small world hasn’t tried to see it all.
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63 Responses to Manhattanhenge

  1. fgassette says:

    Ahhh! Sorry you missed it. Maybe next time. Still wonderful photos.


  2. poor you!! try a lucky charm next time!

  3. Madhu says:

    Ha ha! In India, you would have been told it was your “Karma” 😀 Gorgeous photos nevertheless!

    • ailsapm says:

      Grin – I’m scratching my head trying to figure out how I transgressed so badly in the past to bring about such tragic weather karma 🙂

  4. adinparadise says:

    I’d never heard of it before, but loved the video. Your photos are also lovely, especially #4. Thanks so much for sharing this, Ailsa. 😉

  5. scrapydo says:

    Just the idea of you being there to see it is awesome! Photos are anyway stunning sun or no sun

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks scrapydo, yes, the atmosphere in the crowd of onlookers was a lot of fun, and it was a pretty beautiful sunset despite the clouds 🙂

  6. James Dunn says:

    ever so beautiful, stunning really. You captured the moment sun or no sun

  7. Madoqua says:

    Maybe you need to focus on spectacular clouds instead! The weather might just be foxed and the sun/planets do the right thing for you!

  8. trishworth says:

    Perhaps you’re being saved for something special, a cosmic event that only you will capture… And all this practice will make it the perfect photo.

    • ailsapm says:

      Yesss! Of course, Trish, that must be the reason! Why didn’t I think of that myself? I’m being prepared for my special cosmic purpose. Hee hee, that just made my day. 🙂

  9. cocomino says:

    What a great street!

    • ailsapm says:

      It really is, cocoa, it’s the street the Dakota Building is on – the one where John Lennon used to live. One of my favourite streets in all of Manhattan. xxx

  10. I went last year and the sun behaved well then, but after your experience I don’t think I want to risk going again… 😉

    Maybe you should try the reverse Manhattanhenge, coming up next—when the rising sun is aligned with the EAST end of the grid. But of course that will be sunrise in winter 🙂

  11. Vividhunter says:

    Manhatttanhenge. The things I learn about through blogs ^^ Thanks for the share!

  12. Rois says:

    I perfectly understand you. Every time when there’s a Moon eclipse, оr Meteor shower or anything like that, they are clouds on the sky! I am joking that I can predic the weather for a certain place if I know that I’ll be there when there’s Venus transit for example, and for sure the sky will be cloudy. Although I catched the last Supermoon and once a solar eclipse. But still your photos of almost Manhattanhenge are very beautiful.

  13. Does it hold the same mystical significance for the city’s denizens as Stonehenge? 🙂

    • ailsapm says:

      I’m pretty sure it’s just a sweet photo opportunity for New Yorkers, c & c – as far as I can tell, they don’t indulge in sacrificial offerings – although darting in front of yellow cabs to get a photo might inadvertently bring one about!

  14. Still some very beautiful photos and something I’d never heard about!
    Next year!

    • ailsapm says:

      Thanks, Annie, and you’re right, next year – I am determined to get my perfect Manhattanhenge photo at some point 🙂

  15. Anne Camille says:

    Oh, sorry the weather gods weren’t on your side. Good pics though. There is a place near my house where I want to take a photo of the sun rising over some rapids in a creek. I’ve calculated the dates — and for one I was out of town, the other day it rained. Maybe next year….

  16. Plus side. Your shots were beautiful all the same. 🙂

  17. Amy says:

    Beautiful shots you did, Ailsa! Manhattanhenge on the video is phenomenon. Thanks!

  18. thirdeyemom says:

    This is so cool! I’ve never heard of such a thing! What kind of shows do you do? Theater, tv? How fun!

    • ailsapm says:

      Mostly classical theatre and radio, Nicole. I’ve done some onscreen stuff but nothing terribly interesting. I did once play a zombie – which according to my friends’ kids are way cooler than vampires. 🙂

  19. The weather, wild animals – impossible to predict, but even the dud shots usually have magic to them – as did yours, Ailsa. I tell you what, though, that Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing great things for New York and the Planetarium, isn’t he?

  20. Wow, I had no idea such a thing existed. Definitely something I’m going to look up next time I’m in New York, just in case!

    • ailsapm says:

      Definitely, Silken, it’s quite an event. It can get pretty crazy along 42nd and 34th Street, with people stopping traffic to snag the perfect shot. It’s a lot of fun, and quite a spectacle.

  21. eof737 says:

    I’m sorry I missed it… Maybe next year.The pictures are quite lovely.

  22. Oh no figures huh! In Shanghai the WFT, or bottle opener, has a rectangular opening. I guess there is a day or 2 the sun is right in the middle of it. I would love to get that shot, but so much smog and lack of locations to see this make it pretty difficult.
    I feel your pain since I just bought a new camera last week and I have missed the sunset everynight since! Clouds… clear all day until sunset and thick clouds JUST block the horizon!

  23. Jeff Sinon says:

    I’m sorry Ailsa, my offer to show you around some of New Hampshire has officially been rescinded, I don’t need your kind of luck 😉

    Kidding! You’re welcome any time!

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