Friday, March 20, 2009

THIS WEEKEND: Portlandhenge, Chicagohenge, District of Columbiahenge, Houstonhenge...

Winter is nearly over! Today, March 20th, marks the spring equinox: here in the northern hemisphere, the sun will spend more time over the horizon than under it for the next six months.

Among other things, this means that for the next couple of days, the sun will rise almost exactly to the east, and set exactly to the west. Which, if you live in one of the hundreds of American cities whose street grid is oriented to the cardinal directions, your east-west streets will function as an urban Stonehenge this weekend.

I wrote about the Cityhenge phenomenon here back in September during the fall equinox, and in an article for the local alt-weekly, the Portland Phoenix. Quoting from the latter:
"On the National Mall, the Washington Monument casts its first shadow of the day over Lincoln’s statue, and then, 12 hours later, over the peak of the Capitol dome. In Houston, the setting sun is blinding commuters on the Katy Freeway. Throughout most of Chicago, people can watch the sun rise over Lake Michigan and set over the prairie."
If the skies are clear this weekend, head out to the nearest east-west street at sunset, and enjoy the view while celebrating some pagan astrological rituals. Portlanders: you'll find me outside the Soap Bubble (where I snapped the photo above last fall) this evening at sunset. See you there!


Jim said...

I enjoyed this observation in September so much that I'd been eagerly awaiting the 20th -- not so much for Spring, although that's nice, but to have the quiet pleasure of seeing our city briefly in harmony with the cosmos. (Ever so briefly.)

There aren't many 'blog posts that actually enrich my life, but that was one of them.

Corey Templeton said...

Spring already? I'm glad that it is getting warmer, but where does the time go.