Twice a year, Chicago’s skyline is dabbled with the color orange sunset, and the magnificent phenomenon is called Chicagohenge. It is one of the most picturesque sights you could see in a year. Each year, residents and tourists rush to get a gorgeous view of the city’s skyline and click pictures to preserve it for posterity. The sunrise embraces the city and the city is bathed in the beautiful fall equinox color, putting up an exceptional view!
The traffic-stopping spectacle makes the Chicago streets came to a stop between 6:40 and 6:50 p.m. Drivers snap pictures over dashboards, passengers with smartphones in hand lean out of windows, and pedestrians even set up tripods in the middle of some busy streets to capture the rare image of a burnt orange sun setting between the statuesque skyscrapers.
The Phenomenon Called Chicagohenge
Chicagohenge occurs during spring and fall equinoxes. The city-wide sunrise may be seen throughout the week before and after the equinox. If you miss it during this time you’ll have to wait for another year to take a glimpse of it. The following year, the spring equinox falls on Sunday, March 20, 2022.
The Reason Behind the Phenomenon
The city looks resplendent in its orange hue and though it is a beautiful color, we want to know how does it happen? Well, it has got something to do with Chicago’s city grid design which makes the city easy to walk around and easy to navigate as well. Hence, giving an exceptional look of the equinoxes.
During the spring and fall equinoxes hit, the sun shines on the hemispheres equally and rises and sets directly onto the east and west. DeGrasse said Chicago’s street grid matches maybe exactly on the points of the compass. The rise and set of the equinox sun align with the street grid and the sunrise peeks from the city buildings making it into a perfect frame. The city of Chicago makes for a perfect combination to make the equinox shine through.
Where Can You See It?
The fall equinox falls on September 22 and you can spot the sunrise just a week before and after the date. You may be able to spot the sunrise on just an east-west street. It would be perfect if you get to take a sneak peek from a street which does not have many buildings. A perfect place to have a look at the site may be from the rooftop of a building or skyscraper or maybe from a bridge.
The Mystery Behind the Name
The phenomenon of Chicagohenge comes from the word Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a formation of massive stones that were erected 4,000 years ago. In stipulated months the rising and setting sun would align with the stones like the sunrise which mimics the stones and aligns with the city’s grid systems. Some scientists think that Stonehenge may have been an astronomical calendar.
What About Other Cities?
Chicagohenge is not entirely a unique phenomenon, in fact, the occurrence also takes place in cities such as Manhattan, known as Manhattanhenge. In 2022, you may get to see it again on May 29 and July 12. Tourists who would want to visit Chicago may want to make vacation trips to catch the beautifully lit streets. This is such a beautiful sight that it is celebrated wherever it occurs. You may have heard about the equinox phenomenon right from your school days but watching it cast its magic right before your eyes, can be particularly thrilling.
What Makes Chicago Special?
Even if it occurs in Manhattan, the phenomenon in Chicago looks unique as the phenomenon occurs every year on the spring and fall equinoxes. Also, it has perfect early fall weather with cloudy skies and temperatures in the 60s. You can travel from NPR’s Chicago bureau on Michigan Avenue right around 6:20 p.m and walk up the incline on Randolph Street right around the north end of Millennium Park.
It is certainly a beautiful way to watch the equinox work on its magic, a sight that most cities can enjoy. It is a scene straight out from a painting or movie. You can plan a visit to Chicago during fall to watch the city turn orange!