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New Yorkers line up for 'Manhattanhenge'

sunset NYC Manhattanhenge appears on 42nd Street in New York City. (Photo: mandritoiu/Shutterstock)

New York City is rarely the site of stunning astronomical wonders, but twice a year residents and tourists are treated to a special solar event. During Manhattanhenge, the sun sets perfectly along the city’s east-west street grid.

The term “Manhattanhenge” was coined in 2002 by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in reference to England’s Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument known for its mysterious origins and dramatic solstice alignments.

sun setting over NYC Manhattanhenge illuminates New York City’s skyline at sunset. (Photo: Hit1912/Shutterstock)

Ever since Tyson brought mainstream attention to Manhattanhenge, hundreds of New Yorkers have established a tradition of gathering along 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th and some parallel streets to witness a stunning skyscraper-framed sunset.

There are two main Manhattanhenge days per year, typically around Memorial Day and again in mid-July. These are known as the “full sun on the grid,” but viewers can also see a “half sun on the grid” a day before the May event or a day after the July one.

In 2019, the two best Manhattanhenge experiences will occur Thursday, May 30, at 8:12 p.m. EDT, and again on Friday, July 12, at 8:20 p.m. The “half sun on the grid” views will take place Wednesday, May 29, at 8:13 p.m., and Saturday, July 13, at 8:21 p.m.

The popularity of the event has spiked in recent years, so observers are encouraged to show up at least a half-hour early to get a good view.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated with more recent information.

New Yorkers line up for ‘Manhattanhenge’

Manhattanhenge is an urban phenomenon in which the sun sets perfectly along New York City’s east-west street grid.