‘Manhattanhenge’ returns: Where and when to see the sun ‘kiss the grid’ in New York next week

Manhattanhenge — the extraordinary event that occurs in New York City when the sun perfectly aligns with the east-west streets of Manhattan — will soon be visible again, for four evenings only. 

At sunset on these four days — May 28 and 29, and July 12 and 13 — the sun will appear to rest on the horizon, framed by the city’s iconic skyscrapers, visible from any east-west street. The name “Manhattanhenge” refers to Stonehenge — the Neolithic monument in the UK that was seemingly built to align with the summer solstice.

The first two evenings of 2024 to see the “Manhattanhenge Effect” are Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29, but both are subtly different. On both evenings, if you stand on one of Manhattan’s main east-west thoroughfares at sunset, you’ll see the sunset between the skyscrapers. On Tuesday, May 28, the sun will appear to set literally on the street — causing a so-called “kiss the grid” moment — at 8:13 p.m. EDT, science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote for New York’s American Museum of Natural History.

“As the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon,” Tyson wrote, describing this date as “my personal preference for photographs.” 

Related: 10 temples, tombs and monuments that align with the summer solstice

However, the following evening, something a little different happens. At 8:12 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 29, the entire disk of the sun will appear to sit on the street before sinking off to the side. According to Tyson, the best vantage points are 14th Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street and 57th Street — all easy to reach by public transit. 

The sun sets along 42nd Street during Manhattanhenge on July 11, 2023, in New York City.  (Image credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

“Manhattanhenge” happens because of the borough’s gridiron street layout. The sunset point varies throughout the year, reaching its most northwest at the summer solstice (June 20, 2024) and most southwest at the winter solstice (December 21, 2024). At both equinoxes (March 19 and September 22, 2024), the sun sets due west. 

However, Manhattan’s gridiron is not aligned east-west but is oriented 29 degrees east of true north. Manhattanhenge, therefore, occurs 22 to 23 days before the solstice and 22 to 23 days after. The sun will also set on the streets at 8:20 p.m. EDT on Friday, July 12, while at 8:21 p.m. EDT on Saturday, July 13, it will once again appear to “kiss the grid.” 

If you’re eager to witness this unique event, it’s crucial to plan. Position yourself well in advance and stay safe — the best views are had in the middle of the streets of Manhattan, so be very careful of traffic. Remember that “Manhattanhenge” has gained popularity recently, so expect a crowd. However, there’s no need to rush, as this urban phenomenon will continue as long as Manhattan stands

This post was originally published on Live Science

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