Tuesday night, hundreds of New Yorkers admired a sunset like no other. The star was indeed perfectly aligned between the rows of skyscrapers that crisscross the island of Manhattan. At 20:12 p.m., as expected, the sun, forming an orange ball in the still blue sky of New York, rose in the distance before disappearing, at the end of the east-west axis drawn by the streets of Manhattan, like the 42nd that crosses Times Square.

"It's a wonderful event. And it's a totally New York moment," enthuses Jeanette Wolfson, a science teacher who came to take pictures to show her students the next day. And remind them that, contrary to visual impression, "it's not the sun that sets, it's the earth that rotates and passes from light to darkness," smiles the 47-year-old teacher.

Tonight's half-sun Manhattanhenge on 42nd Street pic.twitter.com/VYJ7lzX7p1

— Noel Y. Calingasan • NYC (@nyclovesnyc) May 30, 2023

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"Something unique"

The phenomenon attracts many photographers armed with telephoto lenses, as well as tourists and New Yorkers, who do not hesitate to stop on the road, very briefly affecting the ubiquitous traffic of SUVs, yellow taxis and bike deliverers that make up the urban landscape of the Big Apple. Camera around his neck, Patrick Batchelder, a 59-year-old photographer, assures that what matters is "people". "The photo itself is not that important. It's being in the middle of the crowd, and enjoying seeing something unique in New York," says the regular.

The event occurs four times a year, for two days, about three to four weeks before and after the summer and winter solstices. It is called "Manhattanhenge", an allusion to the Stonehenge, this great megalithic monument in the south of England, crossed in the center by the sun during the summer and winter solstices.

In New York, according to the checkerboard plan of the island of Manhattan drawn in 1811, the city is cut like a grid between 14th and 155th streets. On its website, the New York Museum of Natural History advises taking advantage of the "Manhattanhenge" at 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd or 57th streets, to admire the moment when "the city frames the sunset", as summarized by its astrophysicist, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Those who missed it Tuesday night will be able to try their luck again on July 12.

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