By Jacqueline Lovci
Manhattanhenge is the phenomenon that occurs when the sun aligns perfectly with the Manhattan street grid, so that it sets between buildings along east-west cross streets in Manhattan. It only happens four days a year and the first in 2023 is this coming Monday, May 29, at 8:13 p.m., with a half sun visible as it dips below the horizon. The following day, May 30, at 8:12 p.m. will be a full-sun spectacle.
The name Manhattanhenge was coined by Frederick P. Rose Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson in 2001, and has caught on with New Yorkers ever since, sparking Instagram hashtags like #manhattanhenge, which has over 100,000 posts. According to Tyson its name was inspired by Stonehenge, a prehistoric circle of stones in Wiltshire, England, which is perfectly aligned with the sunrise on the summer solstice, signaling the change of season.
The full schedule of 2023 Manhattanhenge occurrences was provided by astronomer Jackie Faherty of the AMNH:
- Monday, May 29, 8:13 pm (Half Sun)
- Tuesday, May 30, 8:12 pm (Full Sun)
- Wednesday, July 12, 8:20 pm (Full Sun)
- Thursday, July 13th, 8:21 pm (Half Sun)
(Faherty notes that “every sunset in between will also be gorgeous.”)
The NYC Parks Department says, “For the best views of Manhattanhenge, head to a sidewalk on a major Manhattan cross street that runs from west to east with unobstructed views…Manhattanhenge lasts for only a few minutes at sunset — get there early!” If you’re up for leaving the neighborhood, they recommend checking out the following streets:
- 57th Street
- 42nd Street
- 34th Street
- 23rd Street
- 14th Street
- Tudor City Overpass, Manhattan