Cults: May 2010 Archives

looking at the light cast from the west toward the stones to the east

As I prepared to leave the apartment this evening to go to the market, Barry reminded me that the phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge was about to light up our east-west street in its semiannual visitation. He said he'd heard on Twitter that it would take place precisely at 8:17. At that moment it was only 8:05, but as I didn't know exactly what I would see when I got outside, I immediately headed out the door.

There I found that our doorman already knew all about our modest urban astronomical occasion, just as he always seems to know everything that goes on inside the building and anywhere in its proximity, so I didn't have the satisfaction of inducting a new member into the cult. I then learned that, if anything, I may have been a moment too late rather than too early. The sun seemed to have already hidden itself somewhere in the Hudson River, but its corona was centered on the street axis and was still able to impede a direct glance.

I turned around to see what the eastern axis of the street might look like, stepped into the middle of the holiday-emptied six-lane thoroughfare, and snapped the picture above. Just as I got to the corner of Seventh Avenue (it was now 8:17 exactly), where the traffic signal was momentarily arresting the progress of the few east-west vehicles, a dozen or so pedestrians suddenly appeared in the crosswalk out of nowhere. Everyone seemed to have a camera and was snapping pictures of the setting sun, all the while totally ignoring the rich golden light momentarily transforming everything behind them, even to the white lane-dividing lines on the pavement.

I'm thinking the original stone-age celebrants on the Salisbury Plain would also have been more interested what the stones made of the sun's rays running east, but there's no way to know for sure. As I told my friend at the front desk, nobody stayed around to tell us.

and looking at the sun positioned in the portal between the western stones

This page is an archive of entries in the Cults category from May 2010.

previous archive: Cults: April 2010

next archiveCults: December 2010