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Manhattanhenge Marks the End of a Memorable Memorial Day

By Julie Shapiro | May 30, 2011 10:18am | Updated on May 31, 2011 7:38am

By Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — As Memorial Day festivities drew to a close Monday evening, New Yorkers had a new moment to photograph: Manhattanhenge.

For just a few moments at 8:17 p.m. the sun perfectly aligned with Manhattan's street grid, casting a glow down all of the island's east-west streets as it dipped below the horizon.

The rare sight of the sun's half-disc setting between rows of skyscrapers occurs just twice a year, as the earth hits just the right angle in its annual trek around the sun.

Crowds of New Yorkers and tourists crowded the major crosstown thoroughfares to take photos of the rare spectacle.

Independent filmmaker Jeff Taylor, 37, from Cleveland, Ohio captured the moment on both stills and video footage.

"It's such a unique event that can only happen in New York City," Taylor said.

Shutterbugs will have a chance to capture a similar phenomenon Tuesday night, when the full disc of the sun, rather than the half-disc, will briefly hover on the horizon at the end of Manhattan's east-west streets.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, advises watchers to gather at 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets, about half an hour beforehand. The best views are from the far east side of Manhattan, Tyson said on the planetarium's website.

Manhattanhenge will also occur again on the evenings of July 11 (full disc) and July 12 (half disc), Tyson said.

Among Manhattan's Memorial Day events, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum held its annual wreath-laying ceremony Monday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke at the Upper West Side's Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Day Observance.

Manhattanhenge perfectly aligns the setting sun with Manhattan's rows of skyscrapers.
Manhattanhenge perfectly aligns the setting sun with Manhattan's rows of skyscrapers.
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Flickr/4rilla

The Central Park Conservancy hosted a special memorial walk tour in the park. Inwood celebrated the holiday with its long-running annual Memorial Day Parade.

Memorial Day also saw a record number of people hit the box office for the long weekend.

Did you take a pic of Manhattanhenge? Send your pics to info@dnainfo.com or tweet to @DNAinfo.