The sun sets in perfect alignment with the New York grid to create ‘Manhattanhenge’

Over the next few days, the sun will set in perfect alignment with the Manhattan street grid to create the stunning phenomenon that has been dubbed “Manhattanhenge.”

This phenomenon takes place four nights a year and provides spectacular photographic opportunities for New Yorkers and visitors alike.

The term refers to England’s Stonehenge, which was built in such a way that on the day of the summer solstice, the sun rises in perfect alignment with several of the stones.

“Manhattanhenge is a name coined by Neil deGrasse Tyson for the days of the year when the sun sets perfectly aligned with the Manhattan grid. So it’s perfectly framed by the concrete jungle of this great city,” said Jacqueline Faherty. , an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York said news week.

People take pictures of the sunset over Manhattan as seen from 42nd Street during “Manhattanhenge” on July 12, 2019 in New York City. Manhattanhenge occurs when the sunset is perfectly aligned with the Manhattan street grid.
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images

The reason it happens, according to Faherty, is that Manhattan’s cross streets run roughly east-west. This creates a “target” for the sun to hit when it sets around May 29 and July 11.

“This is all because the Earth is tilted 23.5 degrees relative to the orbit it takes around the sun,” he said. “As such, there are times when Manhattan is pointed more directly toward the sun (during the summer) and times when it is less directly toward the sun (during the winter).”

“On the dates of Manhattanhenge, our city looks directly at the sun some 93 million miles away just as it sets below the horizon.”

In 2022, the first set of dates for Manhattanhenge falls on Memorial Day weekend. On Sunday, May 29, half of the setting sun’s disk will be visible on the grid at 8:13 pm ET. Then on Monday, May 30, the full disk of the sun will be visible on the grid at 8:12 pm ET.

The second set of dates falls on July 11 and 12 when full sun and half sun will be seen on the grid at 8:20 pm and 8:21 pm respectively.

Also, “everyone should remember that between May 29 and July 12 we have the ‘Manhattanhenge Effect,’ which is where the sun appears between the city grid when it’s low in the sky and sets but doesn’t quite kiss.” the grid as it sets,” Faherty said.

The reason Manhattanhenge only occurs at certain times of the year is that, contrary to popular wisdom, the point on the horizon at which the sun sets changes ever so slightly every day.

“Unnoticed by many, the point of sunset actually creeps day by day along the horizon: north until the first day of summer, then back south until the first day of winter,” Tyson said. in an article written for AMNH.

“Despite what pop culture says, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west only twice a year. On the equinoxes: the first day of spring and fall. Every other day, the sun rises and sets in another part of the horizon.”

According to Faherty, you generally have to be on the Manhattan street grid to see the event.

“It’s all about the angle. If you go off the grid by even one degree, you’re going to be out of alignment,” he said. “As long as you can see all the way from Manhattan to New Jersey, you’ll catch the event. I always tell people to decide on their favorite buildings and then plan a safe way to meet in the middle of the street.”

“The most famous places to look at are 42nd Street (overpass over Tudor City or over Pershing Square), 34th Street, 23rd Street, 14th Street, 72nd Street and my new favorite: 145th Street” , said.

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