Everyone enjoys watching a sunset. To keep track of the sun's shifting position, ancient civilizations erected markers like Stonehenge. These days, our own urban grid can serve perfectly well for this purpose. Streets that are precisely aligned east-west, like those in Salt Lake City, point directly at the setting sun at every equinox (March 20 and Sept. 23).
Manhattan's streets had the setting sun sitting at their far ends like a glowing ball on May 31 and will again in two days, on Tuesday, July 12.
It's fun to witness the birth of a new Big Apple tradition, now increasingly called Manhattanhenge. Watching the orange sun dramatically set at the Hudson River end of our streets (best seen along the wider streets from 14th to 110th) is gaining annual recognition as a "thing to do." But this year, Manhattanhenge may be more than a lovely visual event. Thanks to the sun's recent strange behavior, our attention should be focused on that star for much more important reasons.
The sun grows brighter and then dimmer in a roughly 11-year cycle that was first discovered in the 18th century. The brighter the sun, the more solar storms take place, and vice versa. The sun has been cool and calm for a while. But that's over, with serious consequences for the Earth.