New Yorkers Set For A Sunset Treat In 'Manhattanhenge'


The sun was a half orb on May 30, 2009, along 23rd street.

One of the greatest sights in New York City is upon us again: Manhattanhenge!

The beautiful sight seen above happens when the city’s grid lines up with the location of the sunset.

Tonight is the night to witness the sun setting between the city’s iconic buildings, now that the skies have finally cleared up. Last year’s Manhattan henge was a total bust, with cloudy skies obstructing the view. 2011 was pretty nice though.


Flickr/Katie Killary

The full sun glowed on July 11, 2010, looking out from Tudor City bridge above 42nd Street and 1st Avenue.

If the clouds stay away tonight, New Yorkers should be able to look off to the West, through 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them, and see the sun set through the city’s iconic buildings at around 8:15 pm EDT.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s American Museum of Natural History, coined the name Manhattanhenge as a play on Stonehenge, an ancient rock-slab structure in England.

During the summer solstice at Stonehenge, the sun aligns and creates views so stunning that the fleeting sight has convinced some scholars that astronomy must have been important to Stonehenge’s creators.

This all seems to tickle Tyson, who wonders if our city’s grid will inspire similar awe on a post on the museum’s website:

What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance.

Manhattanhenge only comes twice a year, but don’t fret if you miss it (or the clouds roll in), since the next alignment will come again in just a couple months, on July 12 at 8:23 pm EDT.


Courtesy of Pieter Dom

The sun peaking through a tree in 2011.

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