'Euclidhenge' Illuminates Euclid Ave. as Sunset Aligns With Street

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PHOTO BY JAY RYAN
  • Photo by Jay Ryan
Manhattanhenge, so named by Neil deGrasse Tyson, is the phenomenon in New York City on certain dates in the calendar year when sunrise and sunset align perfectly with the street grid of the city, providing a glorious view of the sun climbing or falling between buildings on east-west streets, depending on the date.

"Note that any city crossed by a rectangular grid can identify days where the setting Sun aligns with their streets. But a closer look at such cities around the world shows them to be less than ideal for this purpose," deGrasse Tyson explained to the American Museum of Natural History. "Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as Manhattan has across the Hudson River to New Jersey. And tall buildings that line the streets create a vertical channel to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity.



A Cleveland-area man named Jay Ryan, a former contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine who's involved in astronomy circles around Cleveland and the country, recently investigated if a similar, if obviously less dramatic, scene could be captured in downtown Cleveland.

"Like NYC, Downtown Cleveland is also laid out on a non-cardinally-aligned grid, parallel with the Lake Erie shoreline of 1796, the initial survey of Moses Cleaveland, our founder," Ryan wrote in an email to some friends on Oct. 5. "Unfortunately, the downtown grid is at too great an angle to ever produce 'henge' alignments of Public Square or any of the parallel streets with the rising or setting sun, even on the solstices. However, Euclid Ave. is set off at an angle to the downtown grid, and such alignments occur on suitable dates.



"So I reckoned that an observer at E. 9th and Euclid facing west should be able to see the sun on or near the horizon just before sunset on October 10 each year at about 6:45 p.m., passing over the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The Sun should pass above the horizon between the buildings of Euclid Ave."

"This evening I went back downtown for the proof of concept," he wrote in a followup email. "The sun does indeed align with Euclid Ave., as reckoned. All of Euclid Ave. along the 14 blocks between Public Square and Playhouse Square was a long corridor of sunlight. Every object and building surface was fully illuminated. Though the streets were packed, none of the passersby appeared to notice or care. But it was nearly impossible to drive, the blinding glare completely obscured the forward view of the road."

The next week, on three nights — Oct. 9, 10 and 11 — he went out to see if he was right.

"Tuesday and Wednesday, the sun was blazingly bright as it hung over Euclid, too bright to look at or enjoy in any way," he said. "Thursday was a bust, it was a clear day but cloud settled over the horizon, obscuring the scene. I never did see an orange-ball sunset over land like I routinely see at Edgewater throughout every summer."

PHOTO BY JAY RYAN
  • Photo by Jay Ryan

"This solar alignment over Euclid Ave occurs at sunset for a range of dates in March and October, and at sunrise in April and September," he said.
"Maybe we’ll have a clear sunset in the first week of March when the sunset lines up again with Euclid Ave. Who knows, maybe in years to come, 'Euclidhenge' may become a thing in Cleveland?"

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