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 happens twice in summer sunsets. These are the first days.
- Half sun: Friday, May 29, 2020 around 8:13 pm
Full sun: Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 8:14pm
- Full sun: Sunday, July 12, 2020 at 8:20pm
Half sun: Monday, July 13, 2020 at 8:21pm
2020 dates are from the “Farmers Almanac.”
These summer days just happen to be around Memorial Day and baseball’s All Star Break.
Winter Sunrise Manhattanhenge
It’s not as popular because it is cold and happens early in the morning, but Manhattanhenge also happens twice in winter sunrises. These are the first days.
- Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 6:59 am
Monday, November 30, 2020 at 7am
- Wednesday, January 11, 2021
Thursday, 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.