'Torontohenge' sunset to be in line with city grid Saturday
Last time to catch the phenomenon in 2019
Torontonians could witness special sunsets this weekend if the weather conditions are favourable.
"Torontohenge" is a term that's used when a sunrise or sunset is in line with the city's grid. The "henge" part of the term is a reference to England's famous Stonehenge, which was built thousands of years ago so the rising sun would align in a specific way during the summer solstice.
The phenomenon creates radiant orange light shining between Toronto's skyscrapers and a long shadow effect down the streets.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Torontohenge?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Torontohenge</a> is a phenomenon that happens twice a year, as the sun aligns perfectly with the city's east-west street grid as it sets, resulting in a spectacular urban sunset in the streets of Toronto.—@weathernetwork
The sun has been setting in similar positions all week, and Ralph Bouwmeester, a civil engineer who specializes in tracking the sun and shadows, says there are usually good photo opportunities leading up to the peak day.
"On clear days, for a week or two prior to that there are great opportunities for photographs where the sun is hovering above the street as opposed to setting directly in line with it," he said.
There's the potential for good photo opportunities on Sunday, as well — weather permitting.
Here's photographer Rita Zietsma's "Toronto-henge" pic from last year. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Torontohenge?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Torontohenge</a> happens this weekend and Rita's on the line to tell us about how to get the best shot. <a href="https://t.co/cbY3Q1v0OQ">https://t.co/cbY3Q1v0OQ</a> <a href="https://t.co/JzvOdcIgGu">pic.twitter.com/JzvOdcIgGu</a>—@CBCHereandNow
"It's such a neat thing in Toronto because of the downtown streets, with the canyon walls formed with tall buildings on either side. It's just a unique sight to see the sun setting in between those rows of buildings."
Bouwmeester, who prepares shadow studies for proposed highrises and skyscrapers, says the sun sets and rises in different locations each day, and "when the sun happens to rise or set in line with the direction of the main street grid in Toronto, which is 73 or 74 degrees east of north," is when the photo opportunites are best.
Bouwmeester says if you miss this one, the next Torontohenge will happen in February.
Snapping the perfect photo
Billy Luong, senior technical brand manager at Fujifilm Canada, says it is possible to snap a great photo of the sunset with a smartphone or tablet. But it can be difficult to fully capture the colours and shadows that way, so he recommends using a digital camera.
"It's all about colours and that's what the big draw is. When you shoot toward a bright source of light, you also introduce things like flare, which can make the photograph very interesting."
He recommends setting your camera to shoot at its highest image quality, and also to be ready in position. East-west running streets lined with tall buildings, like King Street, will be good places to get a magical shot.
"You don't have too much time before you lose that lighting opportunity," he said.
Environment Canada suggests keeping your eye on the sky later Saturday evening. If skies are clear, Torontohenge will peak at sunset around 6:17p.m. ET.