‘Torontohenge’ Imperfect in April 2012

TorontoHenge Apr 2012 Before DawnPhoto: Mike DeHaanTorontohenge was less than perfect on April 17, 2012; clouds lingered in the skies just before dawn

What is Torontohenge?

The phenomenon of Torontohenge may be observed four times a year, when the sun rises or sets along a street in Toronto.

The word is derived from Stonehenge, the famous site in Britain where huge stones were aligned with the sunrise on the summer solstice.

In Toronto, Ontario, the main grid pattern of the streets is usually rotated by 16 degrees to the west of north. Therefore, the sun seems to align with long, straight streets, such as King St. in downtown Toronto, whenever the azimuth at sunrise or sunset is 74 or 254 degrees.

The sky may seem bright in the above image, but the buildings and street were truly dim around 6:15 am. The photo was taken from the south sidewalk, facing east.

TorontoHenge Apr 2012 Just Before DawnPhoto: Mike DeHaanHope remained for Torontohenge just before dawn

In the next image, above, the skies were brightening a bit after a few minutes. Clouds remained, but from the north sidewalk the sky seemed to gleam a bit brighter.

This is partly an effect from the camera’s own adjustment for ambient light levels.

TorontoHenge Apr 2012 at DaybreakPhoto: Mike DeHaan
Daybreak for Torontohenge in April 2012

Dawn broke with just a hint of red and pink in the clouds. A streetcar raced to greet the dawn.

Unfortunately, the sun never broke through the clouds on the horizon.

Location of the TorontoHenge Apr 2012 PhotoshootPhoto: Mike DeHaan
This photo establishes the location of the April 2012 Torontohenge

The St. Andrew subway station is at the corner of King St. West and University Ave. in downtown Toronto, Ontario. This corner served as the location for the April 2012 Torontohenge photo shoot. The bright sign, illuminated from within, contrasts with how dark the sky and buildings seem. The camera was allowed to automatically adjust its exposure level. To the naked eye, the ambient light level at this time was about halfway between what was shown in this image and the previous one.

TorontoHenge at Dawn in April 2012Photo: Mike DeHaan
King Street’s southern sidewalk offered this view of cars waiting for the red lights at the next intersection

TorontoHenge at Daybreak in April 2012Photo: Mike DeHaanThe best available evidence of Torontohenge in April 2012

Although a fiery red sun should have appeared by now, the clouds prevented that picture from developing.

Instead, the best evidence for the Torontohenge event is the bright reflection from buildings on both sides of the street, up high where the view widens a bit. If the sun had been completely behind one or the other building, those walls would have been in as much shadow as the buildings closer to the foreground.

Final Image of TorontoHenge April 2012Photo: Mike DeHaan

Although the weather forecast called for clear skies on April 17, 2012, clouds obscured the eastern skies at dawn.

Sources: 1, 2

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