This story first appeared as a column in Camberville & beyond, our free weekly newsletter that contains links to interesting stories and events happening in Cambridge and Somerville. If you’d like to receive it via email every Thursday morning, sign up here!
Now that we’re entering the darkness of winter and the sun is setting earlier, there’s not much to look forward to.
But there is one glimmer of hope that seems to be keeping people feeling positive — and it’s happening this weekend.
It’s once again time for MIThenge.
This sounds like classic MIT shenanigans. Spill.
Oh it is, but with Mother Nature’s assistance. Basically what happens is, twice a year, in January and November, the setting sun perfectly aligns with an 825-foot hallway on the school’s campus known as the Infinite Corridor. When it does, a blast of orange sunlight spills through a window, lighting up the lengthy space with a warming glow. The phenomenon, which has amassed “a cult-like following,” has been highly celebrated for years by both members of the school community and the public.
When does it happen?
MIThenge — a play on the term Stonehenge — is expected to happen on Friday, Nov. 10, and Saturday, Nov. 11, at roughly 4:19 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. (lol nice) respectively. According to information logged on the school’s website, which outlines why it occurs and what it looks like, “these predictions are from high-resolution computations courtesy of Alan Eliasen.”
MIThenge, an astronomical event that lights up the 825-foot Infinite Corridor running through @MIT campus, occurs today at 4:19:02 p.m. and tomorrow at 4:20:18 p.m.— MIT Open Learning (@mitopenlearning) November 10, 2023
Learn more about this phenomenon: https://t.co/NS2yK4ddTN
📸 by Matt Yourst pic.twitter.com/XYY77EJDzm
When the clock strikes, what’s it like?
The MIThenge website has this to say: “As the sun becomes better and better aligned with the corridor the amount of floor that is illuminated goes up and up. Since the floor is very reflective this means that the reflected sun can be seen far down the corridor as the event approaches. The orange light reflected onto the ceiling is often striking.”
According to planetary scientist Richard Binzel, who this week hosted a talk about it, MIThenge is “a major cultural moment on campus …when the heavens and MIT seem to align.”
Of course, all that magic will depend on the weather cooperating.
Want to share a community event or story happening in Somerville or Cambridge? Reach out to us!