An event that makes even locals stop and stare returns to New York City this month. Manhattanhenge, when the sunset aligns with the east-west streets of the borough’s grid, is happening on May 29 and May 30, at 8:13 p.m. and 8:12 p.m., respectively (h/t I Love the UWS). Not only does the setting sun sit perfectly between Manhattan’s many skyscrapers during this biannual event, but an orange-yellow glow hits north and south side streets, creating a picture-perfect moment.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson coined Manhattanhenge, a play on “Stonehenge,” which is the circle of stones in England built to align with the movement of the sun. Manhattan’s grid does not run exactly north-south and east-west, as everything is rotated about 29 degrees clockwise.
During the summer solstice, the sun will set about 32 degrees north of true west. This means a few weeks before and after the solstice, the sun sets at the same angle as Manhattan’s grid, 29 degrees north of true west.
As 6sqft previously noted, Tyson recommends east-west cross streets for the best views, including 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th Streets. In a blog post for the American Museum of Natural History, he writes: “The Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building render 34th Street and 42nd Streets especially striking vistas.”
On Wednesday, May 29 at 8:13 p.m. there will be a “half sun,” which means half of the sun sits above the horizon with half below the horizon. And on Thursday, May 30 at 8:12 p.m., the full sun will be visible, meaning it’s totally above the horizon.
If you can’t make it to this month’s Manhattanhenge, there are two more opportunities this year, after the summer solstice. Catch the phenomenon on Friday, July 12 at 8:20 p.m. and Saturday, July 13 at 8:21 p.m.