What is 'Manhattanhenge' and how can you see it?

Adjust Comment Print

The phenomenon rallies thousands of New Yorkers and visitors around the city, their phones and camera pointed to the sky.

Hundreds of people filled the sidewalks and streets of Midtown to capture the Manhattanhenge as the sun set over New York City on May 30.

If you miss the showing on Tuesday or Wednesday, fear not, there will be another chance on July 12 at 8:20 p.m. and July 13 at 8:21 p.m. You'll get another chance Wednesday night at 8:12 p.m.

But you don't have the battle the crowds (or be in New York City!) to catch a glimpse of this glorious golden hour. A splendid view can be obtained when observed from the "14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57 streets". The term comes from Stonehenge, at which the sun aligns with the stones on the solstices in England. The May 29 and July 13 dates, it should be noted, are "half sun" events - only half the orb will be sticking up over the horizon. Then on May 30 and July 12, the full sun will be visible on the grid right before setting. Every year, around the summer solstice, the setting sun in New York City aligns perfectly with the Manhattan street grid resulting in the sun being framed between the city's tall buildings.

"We don't know exactly who built it", Swangin says.

First, these dates aren't the only ones to watch the sun set between buildings - designer Andrew Hill created an interactive "NYCHenge" map to show all the days and times of the year that opportune sunsets occur.

The term "Manhattanhenge" was popularized by Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson also posted a picture of what the sunset looked like from a view of 34th Street in New York City. "We don't know if it was constructed as an astronomical observatory, or a religious monument to note the position of the sun at different times of year". People need a clear view along the horizon across the Hudson River to New Jersey. The stones are aligned to mark the beginning of summer, as well as the beginning of winter.

Tyson recommends to be as far east in Manhattan as possible for the best viewing opportunities.

That's the day when the sunrise aligns perfectly with the actual Stonehenge.

Of course, there are other places on Earth where the sun aligns with certain landmarks at specific times of the year.

Comments