What is Manhattanhenge?

Here's why New Yorkers are able to witness the striking visual spectacle that is Manhattanhenge.


NSFW    NEW YORK CITY — It's an exciting time of the year for residents of the Big Apple, who get to witness the unique urban phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge.

CBS reports that the term, coined by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, is a callback to Stonehenge, where the sun rises in perfect alignment with the stones during summer solstice.

Manhattanhenge occurs around the dates framing the summer solstice, and is contingent on the exact position of the Earth on its orbital path around the sun.

Manhattan's city grid is tilted 29 degrees east, with streets set at 90 degree angles. When the sun's path is at 29 degrees north of due west, it aligns with streets on the grid.

The setting sun can be seen simultaneously on all streets heading east and west. It's an unusual event that happens four times a year in May and July, twice with a half sun and twice with the entire disk visible.

This year, Manhattanhenge went down around Memorial day, on May 29 and 30, and will be seen again on July 12 and 13.

Experts say the sunset alignment isn't just limited to NYC. Gridded cities like Chicago or Toronto experience similar phenomena, just on different dates.
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