Dazzling sunset creates 'Manhattanhenge' in New York

New York was bathed in an extraordinary glow last night as the sun set not only over, but through, the Big Apple in a rare phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge.

People making the trek home from work stopped in the middle of the road to witness and photograph the sun as it set, perfectly aligned with the city's east-west grid.

Manhattanhenge, sometimes called the Manhattan Solstice, happens twice a year. The latest occurrence was a half-sun Manhattanhenge.

The term, devised by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, comes from Stonehenge, at which the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices in England.

At dusk, Manhattan's streets glow in a magic trick as rays of sunlight span across New York perfectly, from west to east. Before sunset, the sun neatly matches up with the even-numbered streets, sending out fingers of light.

"Manhattanhenge may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world," deGrasse Tyson, of the American Museum of Natural History, said.

DeGrasse Tyson first started thinking about the Manhattanhenge effect back in 1996. Five years later, he took a photo of the sun-meets-skyscrapers display.

It and others were published in 2002 in a special edition of Natural History Magazine called City of Stars, he said. And the effect began to become better known.

Gabrielle Costa, with agencies