Manhattanhenge: When Opportunity Shines on You, Will You be Ready?

Posted on Jun 29, 2011 in CHI Contemplation
Tags: marketing communications, public relations

In a recent “Ask Tom Why” article directed to renowned WGN/Chicago Tribune weatherman Tom Skilling, reader Josh Copeland of Chicago asked:

“Dear Tom,

I recently read about ‘Manhattanhenge,’ a phenomenon where the setting or rising sun aligns perfectly with the east-west streets on two days a year. When does this occur in Chicago?”

Tom Skilling replied, “The Chicago dates for this modern-day version of Stonehenge are close to the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, occurring just before March 21 and September 21, a result of Chicago’s streets running exactly north-south and east-west.”

Who knew? First, that this condition existed in modern cities, and also that Chicago’s streets are aligned with such specific access to directions?

Manhattan’s streets by contrast are on a grid rotated 30 degrees from geographic north, shifting the dates of the equinoxes. That means Manhattanhenge occurs May 30-21 and July 11-12. Goofy.

Having once been on a weeklong trip in the American Southwest studying the archeo-astronomy of Native Americans, it is fascinating to consider whether average, everyday Americans even pay attention to the direction or angle of the sun. Of course they hate it when it lines up with streets in Chicago because the pavement can be blinding. But does anyone see those dates and the position of the sun as having any significance to their lives? Many cultures have used the spring equinox and other movements of the sun and stars to plan events in their lives, including planting, religious ceremonies and harvest.

This raises questions about awareness and opportunity. If as human beings we grow less aware of natural circumstances as the millennia wear on, how are we doing at identifying opportunities in our daily lives? Are we missing cues that could help us succeed?

When talking with clients about public relations opportunities it is common to see their eyes light up when presented with the fact that their customers or their businesses have a story to tell. And when we write that story and get it published in a magazine or online, it often leads to more interest in the business. In other words, one thing leads to another. One day, maybe today, the sun will rise in perfect alignment with your business and its goals, spreading its rays and shining on new and future opportunities.

Sometimes it takes a guide to help you find your Manhattan or Chicagohenge. Someone to help you figure out when the sun will shine on your business in a way that makes people pay attention. At CHI, that’s what we do every day.

Is there a light shining on your business now?  We can help you know when it will—and where you need to be positioned for best viewing.


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