Calling All Scientists: Did They Get the Manhattanhenge Date Wrong?

Supposedly, Manhattanhenge was last week, but Dawn Cullen Jonas took the photos below on 74th Street on Monday. “I was walking my dog and it stopped me in my tracks,” she wrote.

It sure looks pretty Manhattanhenge-ish to us. But then again we’re not scientists.

The next official Manhattanhenge dates are in July.


NEWS | 11 comments | permalink
    1. dannyboy says:

      And no crowding!

    2. Judy says:

      Great photos!

    3. Bill says:

      It’s my understanding that the dates are based on the position of the sun just as it hits the horizon. This photo appears to be taken a few moments before that. By the time the sun arcs to a full sunset, it would be slightly out of alignment. BUT … a very nice photo!

    4. Phil Terred says:

      Shooting directly into the sun COULD blow-out your SENSOR! Yes? No?

      PERHAPS some sort of filter (such as a Neutral Density filter) would help?

      Any pro’s care to reply?

      • Jeff French Segall says:

        Not for the tiny fraction of a second that it’s exposed. I’ve. shot like that a number of times with no harm to the sensor. The exposure is usually faster than 1/1000th of a second.

    5. Michael says:

      Yes, the sun is shining right down the middle of the street…happens all the time as sunset approached.

      But the point of Manhattanhenge is that the sun lines up with the street grid at the moment of sunset, either sitting on the horizon or half above and half below (it’s a two-day event in June and again in July)

      From the photos it looks like the sun is somewhat above the horizon with a few minutes to go before setting. This is where it should be a week after Manhattanhenge.

    6. Josep L. says:

      For it to be Manhattanhenge the sun has to align with the entire street grid of the island. You must be able to see the same thing regardless of which street you happen to be looking west from at sunset. It could be that further south the sun would have been a little off by a few degrees, therefore not aligned.

      • Michael says:

        Yes, in theory the angle would be slightly different looking down 54th street, a mile to the south, or 94th street a mile to the north. But since the sun is 93,000,000 miles away, the difference would be too small to notice: 1/25,000,000 of a degree.

    7. Lenore says:

      Well,whatever, but that sure is more impressive than the failed Manhattanhenges that I experienced on the two correct days!

      (Beginning to sour on the whole thing…). 😾

    8. Mark says:

      They didn’t get the date for Manhattanhenge wrong — it actually happens twice a year, usually in late May and early July. AMNH picks one on which to hold its event and street closure, this year in July (last year it was May). The reason there are two is that the orientation of the avenues (and Manhattan itself) is not exactly pointing to true north – it is off by a dozen or so degrees, resulting in the cross-street alignment with the setting sun twice a year instead of once on the solstice.

    9. Dr Manhattan says:

      “Manhattanhenge” happens twice a year, on the dates where the sun passes the horizon right at the point of alignment to the cross streets. For most of the year the sun sets to the south of this point, and for the ~6 weeks between the two manhattenhenge dates, it sets further to the north.

      This also means that every day between now and July 12th (the second manhattanhenge), the sun will briefly align to the streets in Manhattan in the minutes prior to the sunset.