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 – twice in the end of May, and twice in mid-July, when the sun is directly in line with the Manhattan street grid
Manhattanhenge is a play on words for Stonehenge. It’s fascinating to see and photograph, whether you are using a camera phone or serious camera gear with a long lens and a 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.
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.
Let’s hope for sunny and clear, not cloudy or rainy.
Dates for Manhattanhenge 2021
Saturday, May 29th at 8:13pm, you will see a “half sun”.
The next day, Sunday, May 30th at 8:12pm, you will see a “full sun,” with the entire solar ball of the sun above the horizon.
Additionally, if you miss out in May, you’ll get a second chance in July.
July 11th will be a “full sun” date at approximately 8:20pm.
On the second date, July 12th, viewers can see the “half sun” Manhattanhenge at 8:21 p.m. EDT.
These are the exact same dates and times as Manhattanhenge in 2019. How weird is that!
Here are Manhattanhenge’s exact times as calculated by the Hayden Planetarium:
Click here for the
and also photo advice
And let’s hope for clear skies – no clouds or rain – to obscure the incredible view.
Manhattanhenge is one of the 100 Things to Do in NYC Before You Die, included in the new NYC guidebook by NYC on the Cheap Editor Evelyn Kanter.
Available now in bookstores and online.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for autographed copies.
The Story of Manhattanhenge
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.
But the story of Manhattanhenge started far earlier, in 1811. That’s when the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811 established the City’s street plan.
Streets below Houston Street are kind of helter skelter, planned – or not planned – by the Dutch and then the English, starting in the 1600s.
The island of Manhattan doesn’t align perfectly north-south. It’s rotated off true north by roughly 29° clockwise. So when the planners 200 years ago created a square street grid from Houston St. north to 155th St., the grid is also not perfectly north-south.
Because of that, the sunset aligns with the grid when its azimuth is 29° north of due west. That is annually, about 20 days before and after the summer solstice.
On those days, it is possible to observe the phenomenon on any east-west street on the grid that has an unobstructed view over the Hudson River to New Jersey, including across streets with no river view. That’s what prompted deGrasse Tyson to name it Manhattanhenge.
photo courtesy Technology Weekly
This posting about Manhattanhenge has been published annually since 2014 and is updated annually.