Manhattanhenge is happening July 11 and 12.
New Yorkers’ Instagram feeds are about to get filled with beautiful shots of a natural phenomenon that occurs when Manhattan’s sunset lines up perfectly with its east-west street grid.
The scientifically-backed alignment occurs for two consecutive nights twice a season — a few weeks before and after the summer solstice on June 21 (May 29 and 30 are the other dates). The reason it doesn’t fall exactly on the solstice is because Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east of a perfect north-south alignment.
It’s a modern reinterpretation of a similar phenomenon that occurs exactly on the summer solstice at Stonehenge, the ancient formation in England that is shrouded in astronomical and historical mystery.
This isn’t unique to Manhattan, but Manhattan does it best.
While any city with a grid objectively has days with perfectly-aligned sunsets, Manhattan is unique because of the clear horizon view provided by the Hudson River on the city’s west side. Its towering buildings also provide an architectural “picture frame” that amps up pics.
You can get a clear view on any wide cross street, as long as you can see the water and New Jersey skyline relatively well.
Wide, two-way cross streets like 34th, 42nd, and 57th are popular spots on these evenings.
As astrophysicist Neil de Grasse Tyson, who is widely credited with discovering and popularising Manhattanhenge, puts it: “[the] Sun’s rays are essentially parallel by the time they reach Manhattan, allowing the Sun to be seen on all cross streets simultaneously, provided you have a clear view to the New Jersey horizon.”
Some words of warning: footpaths and street corners will be packed
Dozens of people will be grappling for the same epic shot. Be on the lookout for rogue selfie sticks and distracted tourists.
Monday, July 11, 8:20 p.m.
Tuesday, July 12, 8:20 p.m.
Wide open cross streets with a view of the New Jersey horizon:
14th, 34th, 42nd, 57th are good spots.
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