Manhattanhenge are days when the sun lines up with Manhattan’s crosstown street grid. The name was coined by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.
The name is a reference to the way the prehistoric monument Stonehenge in England is designed to frame the sunrise of the summer solstice and the sunset of the winter solstice. Those days mark the change of seasons.
The Manhattan grid alignment is accidental, but it is still a little magical when the sun rises or sets straight across Manhattan streets.
Manhattanhenge happens twice on summer sunsets and twice on winter sunrises. Plus each Manhattanhenge is actually two days. One day the sun’s full disk aligns with the street grid. The other day half the sun’s disk aligns with the street grid.
There are eight Manhattanhenge days every year.
Summer Sunset Manhattanhenge
Manhattanhenge sunset happens twice in summer. The first days just happen to be around Memorial Day and baseball’s All Star Break.
- Half sun: Saturday, May 29, 2021
Full sun: Sunday, May 30, 2021
- Full sun: Monday, July 11, 2021
Half sun: Tuesday, July 12, 2021
Winter Sunrise “Reverse” Manhattanhenge
Reverse Manhattanhenge is not as popular because it is cold, early in the morning, and the eastern horizon is more hilly, but Manhattanhenge also happens twice in winter.
- Sunday, November 29, 2020
Monday, November 30, 2020
- Monday, January 11, 2021
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
One of the best spots to see it is Fifth Avenue at 41st St.
Best Manhattanhenge Viewing Spots
Wide cross streets are the best viewing spots. Go at least an hour early if you want to get a good spot. The best spots get crowded.
- 79th Street
- 57th Street
- 42nd Street includes the Chrysler Building.
The Pershing Square overpass is good but close to traffic.
The Tudor City Bridge is a good spot, but crowded.
- 34th Street includes the Empire State Building
- 23rd St
- 14th Street
In summer, Hunter’s Point South Park across the East River from 42nd St is a good spot too.
Looking directly at the sun is dangerous
It has to be said that looking directly at the sun can burn your eyes.
Be careful even using solar viewing glasses. During recent eclipses, many people hurt themselves because their viewing glasses were fake and did not actually provide protection.