Test Shots for Dallashenge

According to my calculations, this Wednesday, February 15, at 6:13 PM will be this spring’s Dallashenge moment. That is when the setting sun will be aligned with the canyons of Dallas’ downtown streets, which do not run exactly east-west (if they did, Dallashenge would occur on the equinox). Of course, it’s called “henge” in reference to Stonehenge, another man made arrangement of objects aligned with the heavens. Manhattanhenge seems to be a pretty big deal in the Big Apple, but I have not found anyone other than me working out the date for Dallas.

Unless the weather makes this impossible, I plan on heading downtown to take pictures on Wednesday (If you are interested in meeting down there, contact me). I had a couple of questions, though – how hard would it be to grab a photograph while crossing at the light and which street would be the best canyon to photograph.

Test shots were in order.

I was downtown last weekend so I walked across the street grid, taking photographs at each intersection. My first question was easily answered – there is plenty of time during the time the little walking guy appears on the crossing light to dash out into the center of the lane, snap a couple pics, and then dash back before the cars are unleashed.

There are four major east-west canyon streets in downtown Dallas. From south to north: Commerce, Main, Elm, and Pacific.

Looking west from Commerce and St. Paul Streets in downtown Dallas.

Main Street and St. Paul

Elm and Harwood Streets. I like this view. I'm not sure if the pedestrian bridge will ruin the shot. Also, the Lew Sterrett jail is at the end of the street and may block the sun's orb..

Pacific and St. Paul, at the end of LIve Oak. This location has the advantage that it isn't in the street and I can set up a tripod and take photos on my schedule instead of rushing out when the light changes.

Of the four, I like Elm a lot. I tried to get up into that pedestrian bridge, but it is closed to the public. A shot from street level would be cool, especially with the Majestic Theater there to the right.

My favorite is the Pacific shot, though. There is a big advantage there, too. At the end of Live Oak street (Pacific/St. Paul/Live Oak) there is a bit of sidewalk that juts out into the middle of the street. I can set up a tripod there and take photos at my leisure.It has a nice canyon in the middle and they the sky opens with some glass mirrored ‘scrapers sticking up – if there is a nice sunset, it will look cool.

I’ve never done this kind of shooting before… any advice would be appreciated.

So, weather permitting, I plan on taking the DART train downtown and setting up on the sidewalk there at Pacific and St. Paul (I might dash on over to Elm too, I’m not sure how the timing will go) to get some pictures of the sun setting down that man-made canyon.

I’m not an expert on this and I may be reading the ephemeris tables wrong. Friday might actually be a better evening – the sun’s orb will be a little higher up and might make for a better photo. I could go back again, Friday would be easy. Again, if the weather is bad – too much cloud cover – I won’t even bother to go down there.

So we’ll see. I’ll keep you appraised.


A few days ago I read about the phenomenon of Manhattanhenge – the phenomenon that occurs several times a year when the rising or setting sun happens to align perfectly with the canyons of New York City. It is called Manhattanhenge in honor of Stonhenge… which is in putative alignment with its own set of heavenly circuits.

Image from New York Bridge and Tunnel Club

I really never thought about the fact that the streets of Manhattan don’t run perfectly East-West. They are aligned with the long axis of the island itself, about thirty degrees off of the meridian.

I began to think about Dallas, so I pulled up a map. The streets in downtown, the ones that run between the skyscrapers – Commerce, Main, Elm – don’t run perfectly East-West either. I don’t know what the layout is based on… probably where the deer and the antelope used to roam. Looking around the internet, I found suncalc.net, which made it easy to find the directions of sunrise and sunset at different times of the year.

According to suncalc.net in 2012 Downtown Dallas, the Sunset Stonehenge moment will be at 6:13 PM on February 15, and the Sunrise Stonehenge will be 6:53 AM on April 19th. That’s when the sun will rise/set right along the canyons of buildings along the streets downtown. I’m going to try to remember and be there to take some pictures.

One big question is where. I’m going to have to go downtown and walk around and look for good places. Commerce, Main, and Elm all have a lot of tall buildings lining the sidewalks, but it’s hard to tell where the best spot is. One problem is the Lew Sterrett Center sticks up at the west end of Downtown; the jail will block the sun.

Another problem is how to get the picture without getting run over. The streets of downtown are busy at the evening hour and I’ll have to wait for a walk signal, run out into the street, take a snap, and then get the hell out of Dodge. Looking through Google Maps I found this:

Googlemap Streetview

Maybe that pedestrian overpass would be a good spot. I’ll have to check it out and make sure it’s open to the public and that the glass is clean.

It would be cool to have a group down there taking photographs. If any of y’all are interested, get with me, and we can talk.

If the weather is bad, another Stonehenge Sunrise will come on August 23rd (6:57) and another Stonehenge Sunset will occur on October 25 (6:43).

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Chicago is interesting because its streets do run straight East-West. Therefore, their “henge” is on the equinox.