Manhattanhenge 2023: When, where and how to watch in New York City

Manhattanhenge is when the sun sets in perfect alignment with Manhattan’s east and west numbered streets to create cinema-worthy photo opportunities.

Take a look at some background on the phenomenon, as well as when and where you can see it:

Where does the name Manhattanhenge come from?

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson coined the term in a 1997 article in the magazine Natural History. Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium at New York's American Museum of Natural History, has said that he was inspired by a visit to Stonehenge as a teenager.

The future host of TV shows like PBS' "Nova ScienceNow" was part of an expedition led by Gerald Hawkins, the scientist who first theorized that Stonehenge's mysterious megaliths were an ancient astronomical observatory.

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Manhattanhenge is seen during sunset between 42nd Street on May 29, 2022. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

It struck Tyson, a native New Yorker, that the setting sun framed by Manhattan's high-rises could be compared to the sun's rays striking the center of the Stonehenge circle on the solstice.

Unlike the Neolithic Stonehenge builders, the planners who laid out Manhattan did not mean to channel the sun. It just worked out that way.

When is Manhattanhenge?

Manhattanhenge does not take place on the summer solstice itself. Instead, it happens about three weeks before the solstice and again about three weeks after. That's when the sun aligns itself perfectly with the Manhattan grid's east-west streets.

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Here are this year's dates:

  • The half sun will be visible on the grid Monday at 8:13 p.m.
  • The full sun will be visible Tuesday at 8:12 pm.
  • The second set of dates fall on July 12 (full Sun) and July 13 (half Sun).

Where can you see Manhattanhenge?

The traditional viewing spots are along the city's broad east-west thoroughfares:

  • 14th Street
  • 23rd Street
  • 34th Street
  • 42nd Street
  • 57th Street.

The farther east you go, the more dramatic the vista as sun's rays hit building facades on either side. It is also possible to see Manhattanhenge across the East River in the Long Island City section of Queens.

Is Manhattanhenge an organized event?

Manhattanhenge viewing parties are not unknown. The beverage company San Pellegrino hosted an "exclusive Manhattanhenge celebration" on a bridge spanning East 42th Street in 2018.

But Manhattanhenge is mostly a DIY affair. People gather on east-west streets a half an hour or so before sunset and snap photo after photo as dusk approaches. That's if the weather is fine. There's no visible Manhattanhenge on rainy or cloudy days.

Do other cities have 'henges'?

Similar effects occur in other cities with uniform street grids. Chicagohenge and Baltimorehenge happen when the setting sun lines up with the grid systems in those cities during March and September, around the spring and fall equinoxes. Torontohenge occurs around Feb. 16 and Oct. 25.

But Manhattanhenge is particularly striking because of the height of the buildings and the unobstructed path to the Hudson.

Associated Press wire services helped contribute to this report.