By Brian Williams, Anchor and managing editor
It will be one of those moments in New York. In a city where summer evenings are my favorite time of day during my favorite time of year, some New Yorkers might find themselves stopping, this evening -- on a corner, in the middle of conversation -- realizing something special is taking place, while they may not realize exactly what it is.
As our beloved and long-time traveling producer Jean Harper pointed out to me in an email this morning, what happens tonight has been nicknamed "Manhattanhenge" by the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Tyson is a lot of things: an educator, a public intellectual, a scientist, an experienced astronomer...but mostly, he's a romantic. He's a City kid from the Bronx who grew up to go to Harvard and Columbia (turning down Carl Sagan's invitation to attend Cornell instead) and came back home to pursue his life's dream...studying the heavens and spreading the excitement he feels so deeply. He is a New York treasure. Among other things, he makes us aware of events like the one that is unfolding here tonight.
You see, today, in Dr. Tyson's words, is "one of only two days in the year when the Sun sets in exact alignment with the Manhattan grid, fully illuminating every single cross-street for the last fifteen minutes of daylight." Tyson points out this would happen on the Solstice, if only New York were laid out on a parallel North-South grid. Today's event owes to the city's 30-degree angle out of parallel with the poles.
So...I plan to be on one of those cross streets, looking West, after tonight's broadcast -- taking it all in, and looking for other faces in the moving crowd on a Friday night -- who just might be doing the same.
With that, we will start the weekend -- but long before then, we hope you can join us tonight for our Friday broadcast.