What’s Up: Mercury-Venus Conjunction and Manhattanhenge

by | May 28, 2021 | Daily Space, Mercury, Sky Watching, The Sun, Venus | 0 comments

CREDIT: SkySafari via community member refsmmat

If you didn’t get out the last two weeks and check out Mercury, there is another cool event coming up this weekend. It’s actually going to be more difficult because it’s going to be in close conjunction with Venus. This will be the closest visible conjunction until 2033. You’ll probably need at least binoculars to differentiate the two, though, as Venus is just so bright. And Mercury is in a waning crescent, so it’s less bright than when we sent you all out to look earlier this month. However, if you can get a clear view of the western horizon at dusk, give this pair a look, and please share any pictures you happen to take. You can tag us on Twitter where we are at CosmoQuestX.

CREDIT: Pixabay

If you live near New York City, now is the time to go see a curious phenomenon called Manhattanhenge, where the Sun lines up nearly perfectly along 42nd, 34th, and 13th Streets in Manhattan. This is a twice-a-year event, and this year, the first occurrences (they come in pairs) are on May 29 and May 30 at about 8:10 pm Eastern. The next time this phenomenon occurs will be in July on the 12th and 13th at 8:20 pm Eastern.

This is a pretty neat little happenstance. Scientific American explains: 

The phenomenon is based on a design for Manhattan outlined in The Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 for a rectilinear grid or “gridiron” of straight streets and avenues that intersect one another at right angles. This design runs from north of Houston Street in Lower Manhattan to just south of 155th Street in Upper Manhattan. Most cross streets in between were arranged in a regular right-angled grid that was tilted 29 degrees east of true north to roughly replicate the angle of the island of Manhattan. And because of this 29-degree tilt in the grid, the magic moment of the setting sun aligning with Manhattan’s cross streets does not coincide with the June solstice but rather with specific dates in late May and early July.

So if you’re in the area, give this view a chance. We’ll have links to where to see it from in our show notes on DailySpace.org.

More Information

In Late May, Closest Mercury-Venus Conjunction Until 2033 (EarthSky)

It’s Almost Time For Manhattanhenge (EarthSky)

Manhattanhenge: What It Is, and How to See It (Scientific American)

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