Manhattanhenge Was Rained Out Tuesday Night — But Here's What It Would Have Looked Like


Twice a year, Manhattanhites get to see the sun sets in perfect alignment with the city grid, lighting up the north and south sides of every cross street. This is called Manhattanhenge.

The term, coined by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History, is derived from Stonehenge, when the sun lines up with the vertical rocks on the summer solstice.  

Unfortunately, clouds ruined last night’s viewing of the half sun on the grid. But city folks will get to the rare event again on July 12 at 8:25 p.m. EDT.

There are also two other days when the sun is exceptionally radiant, although not perfectly aligned with the grid, according to Life’s Little Mysteries. That happens on May 30 (today) at 8:16 p.m. EDT and on July 11 at 8:24 p.m. EDT. On these dates, viewers will be able the see the entire sun on the horizon, rather than a half sun.  

In preparation for tomorrow, here’s some advice from Tyson on how to watch the urban phenomenon:

For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas.

Plan on watching the full sun tonight? Email your pictures to [email protected]   

First, a look at tonight's Manhattanhenge, which was kind of a bust...

The half sun looked vibrant on May 30, 2010

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

A half orb on May 30, 2009, along 23rd street

May 30, 2009 in the Flatiron District

Manhattanhenge on July 12, 2009, in NoHo

Mahattanhenge melting into the horizon on July 13, 2009

Manhattanhenge in 2009 from 42nd street

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