MANHATTANHENGE

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and one of the most anticipated sunsets of the year. Neil deGrasse Tyson joins us with a preview of Manhattanhenge.

Aired on May 29, 2018.

TRANSCRIPT

THA EACH SUMMER THE SUN EARTH AND MONUMENTS OF HUMAN INDUSTRY CREATE SOMETHING OF A SPECTACLE HERE IN OUR CITY.

DUBBED IS MANHATTANHENGE AFTER THE FAMOUS STONEHENGE MONUMENTS IN BRITAIN IT'S A PHENOMENON THAT ALIGNS THE SUNSET WITH THE CITY STREETS.

SO WHAT'S THE SCIENCE BEHIND THE PHENOMENON AND WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO SEE IT JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT MANHATTANHENGE IS ASTROPHYSICIST NEIL DEGRASS TIE ZONE.

SINCE I HAVE YOU HERE.

I JUST WORK UP THE STREET PL.

CALL ME MORE OFTEN.

SO MANY QUESTIONS.

YOU DON'T CALL, DON'T WRITE.

BUT SINCE I HAVE YOU HERE LET ME TALK TO YOU ABOUT MANHATTANHENGE.

YEAH.

EXPLAIN THE PHENOMENON.

WHAT IS IT?

HOW DOES IT HAPPEN?

LET ME JUST SAY I DIDN'T INVENT THE FACT THAT THE SUN DOES THIS.

BUT I CALLED IT TO PEOPLE'S ATTENTION WHO NEVER REALLY PAUSED TO THINK ABOUT IT.

OKAY?

SO AS WE ALL KNOW, AS NEW YORKERS, MANHATTAN IS LAID OUT ON A GRID.

IT'S A RECTILINEAR GRID.

EXCEPT FOR BROADWAY WHICH CUTS THROUGH IT ALL, RAM SHACKLE.

ALL BELONGS ARE THE RECT ANGLES.

THE EAST WEST STREETS MOST OF WHICH CUT THROUGH THE ISLAND, EXCEPT FOR CENTRAL PARK BUT PICK UP ON THE OTHER SIDE.

THERE ARE OTHER OCCASIONAL BLOCKAGES BUT THERE ARE FAMOUS CROSS STREETS GOING RIVER TO RIVER.

INCLUDING 34th STREET, I THINK 36th STREET, 57th STREET, BUT NOT 59th STREET BECAUSE TIME WARNER CENTER IS IN THE WAY.

YOU GOT TO THINK THIS THROUGH.

TLRT.

YOU CAN ASK THE QUESTION, IS THERE DAY OF THE YEAR WHERE THE SUN SETS PRECISELY ON THE GRID?

AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS BOTH SIDES OF THE STREET ARE ILLUMINATED BY SUNLIGHT.

AND YOU HAVE THIS HIGHLY ANTICIPATED TIMED MOMENT WHERE THE SUN -- BECAUSE THE SUN COMES IN AT AN ANGLE.

IT ONLY COMES STRAIGHT IN IN THE TROPICS .AT OUR HAT ATTITUDE ALWAYS AT AN ANGLE.

. IT APPEARS FROM BEHIND THE BUILDING ON THE LEFT AND SHOWS UP BETWEEN -- IN THIS CAP ON, STEEL AND GLASS CANYON THAT IS -- THAT DEFINES THE LOOK AND FEEL OF THIS CITY, AND BAM, THE SUN SETS RIGHT THERE.

I CALCULATED THE DAYS THOSE WOULD BE.

I PUBLISHED THEM IN LIKE 1996.

BUT NO ONE PAID ATTENTION BUS I SAID WHAT TO BE.

I SAID LET ME SETTLE IT ONCE AND FOR ALL.

I TOOK THE FIRST PHOTO OF THIS.

IT'S MANHATTANHENGE.

AND I CALLED IT MANHATTANHENGE.

WHEN I WAS A KID I WENT TO STONEHENGE.

YOU REMEMBER STONEHENGE THE SUN SETS OVER ONE OF THE -- THE HEEL STONE LINED UP WITH THESE OTHER MONUMENTS.

AND SO THE ANCIENT PEOPLE THIS MATTERED IT WAS THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER.

I SAID WOW YOU CAN LINE IT UP WITH THE SKY SO YOU HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF CULTURE INTERPOSEWOOD THE UNIVERSE.

AND I SAID LET ME BRING THAT TO NEW YORK.

THERE ARE TWO DAYS ONE DAY TENDS TO HAPPEN AROUND MORE AND MORIAL DAY.

THE OTHER ONE HAPPENS NEAR BASEBALL'S ALL-STAR BREAK, IF YOU MUST KNOW.

AND ON THOSE TWO TIMES THE SUN SETS EXACTLY ON THE MANHATTAN GRID.

AND I TOOK A PHOTO, PUBLISHED IT IN EARLY 2002.

AND IT WAS LIKE A SLOW BURN.

BUT NOW THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE FLOOD THE STREETS FOR THIS.

BECAUSE WE PUT OUT A PRESS RELEASE.

IN THE MIDDLE OF STREETS.

THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET.

CHAOS.

I HEARD SOMEONE SAY WHY YOU BLOCKING TRAFFIC FOR THIS?

AND I SAID EXECUTE EXCUSE ME YOUR TRAFFIC IS BLOCKED FOR TRUMP, CON ED, FOR POLICE ACTIVITY, AT LEAST ALLOW TWO DAYS A YEAR WHERE IT IS BLOCKED FOR THE UNIVERSE ITSELF.

SO THE REASON IT WORKS IS WE HAVE A CLEAN HORIZON TO NEW JERSEY.

THERE IS -- THE ROADS DON'T CURVE.

IT CROSSES THE HUDSON TO NEW JERSEY WHERE THE CLEAN SUNSET LINE IS.

JUST REMEMBER IF YOU DO THIS, LEAVE YOUR ZOOM LENS AT HOME.

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ZOOM.

YOU WANT TO GO AS FAR EAST AS POSSIBLE SO YOU CAN LOOK COMPLETELY ACROSS THE WIDTH OF MANHATTAN ALMOST TO A VANISHING POINT.

AND ON THESE DAYS WE CALCULATED IT IS AN COMPACT LINEUP.

WHAT YOU HAVE IS THE BURST OF THE SUN AT THE END OF THE VANISHING POINT FRAMED BY THE STEEL AND MEETINGS CANYONS OF OUR TALL BUILDINGS.

ARE THERE MULTIPLE STREETS AND AVENUES WHERE THEY CAN GET THAT KIND OF VIEW.

YEAH, I MEAN THE BEST STREETS -- YOU WANT NICE BUILDINGS IN YOUR SHOT.

THE BEST PLACES ARE 34th STREET AND 42nd.

34th OF COURSE YOU WANT THE EMPIRE STATE BUILDING.

42nd IF YOU'RE NAR ENOUGH EAST YOU GET THE CHRYSLER BUILDING.

IT'S NOT LIT UP BECAUSE IT'S DAY TIME BUT STILL BEAUTIFUL IN THE SHOT.

AND OTHER STREETS IT WORKS AND BEAUTIFULLY.

57th STREET THE BUILDINGS ARE NOT AS INTERESTING.

BUT IT'S ANOTHER DOUBLE WIDE CROSS STREET IT WORKS ON 14th STREET.

AND LAST I CHECKED UNLESS SOMETHING WAS BUILT -- YOU NEVER KNOW THESE DAYS.

NEIL I DON'T KNOW ANYBODY MORE EXCITED ABOUT THIS THAN YOU.

THE NIGHT SKY MY FIRST NIGHT SKY WAS THE HAYDEN PLAN TARE YUM AS A KID AND NOW IT'S THE PRIVILEGE AND HONOR TO BE THE DIRECTOR OF THAT FACILITATE.

AND I SEE KIDS COMING IN I HOPE I DO FOR THEM WHAT EDUCATORS AND SCIENTISTS DID FOR ME WHEN I WALKED IN THERE STARRY EYED.

IT'S AN HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANKS SO MUCH.

THANKS.

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