Manhattanhenge is when the sun sets directly through the center of Manhattan cross streets, lighting both the north and south sides.
Manhattanhenge is just four times a year, when the sun is directly in line with the Manhattan street grid. It happens twice a year. If you missed it at the end of May, you get a second chance in mid-July. Or wait until next year.
Manhattanhenge is a play on words for Stonehenge. And it’s fascinating to see, with or without a camera and tripod.
The Hayden Planetarium’s Neil deGrasse Tyson, who coined the word, calls it a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe, and there also are special events at the Planetarium and at AMNH to celebrate it.
Manhattanhenge starts at just after 8PM, when the sun appears on the western edge of east-west numbered NYC streets, washing the space between the two sides of the street in a golden orange light until the actual sunset.
Here are the dates for Manhattanhenge 2018
TUESDAY, MAY 29, AT 8:13 PM EDT (HALF SUN)
WEDNESDAY, MAY 30, AT 8:12 PM EDT (FULL SUN)
THURSDAY, JULY 12, AT 8:20 PM EDT (FULL SUN)
FRIDAY, JULY 13, AT 8:21 PM EDT (HALF SUN)
Click here for the best places to see Manhattanhenge
There’s also a great vantage point from Long Island City, at Hunters Point Parks Conservancy where it’s called LIC Henge. You’ll get the unique view of the sun through the street grid, with the added bonus of the reflection off the East River.
Also again this year, the American Museum of Natural History has several special Manhattanhenge programs at the Hayden Planetarium.
On July 12, the Hayden Planetarium will also be hosting a public program highlighting the history and astronomy of this spectacle.
Starting at 7 pm, Jackie Faherty, a research associate in the Museum’s Department of Astrophysics, will give a special presentation followed by a viewing of the event at 79th Street. Tickets are $15, $13.50 for for seniors and students.
BTW – The term “Manhattanhenge” was coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, as a play on Stonehenge, where the Sun aligns with the stones on the sunrise of the summer solstice with a similarly dramatic effect.
Here’s the technical explanation of Manhattanhenge, from the experts at B&H:
The planet Earth, an oblate spheroid (not flat), is tilted approximately 23.5 degrees from its orbital path around the Sun in the heliocentric solar system. Because of this, as the Earth rotates and orbits the sun, the time and angle of sunrise and sunset change throughout the year. When the angle of the sunset aligns with the street grid in Manhattan, we experience the celestial phenomenon of Manhattanhenge.
Let’s hope for picture postcard weather, instead of cloudy or rainy.
photos courtesy Technology Weekly and B&H
This posting about Manhattanhenge has been published annually since 2014 and is updated annually.