Manhattanhenge: NYC Natural Phenomenon on Display [Video]

Manhattanhenge is coming to “Gotham.” For those who are unaware, Manhattanhenge is the moment when the setting sun precisely aligns with the street grid in Manhattan, and it can be seen this weekend. It is a natural phenomenon that has become a well-known event, drawing hoards of spectators from all over the world. The event will commence at 8:12 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 29, when half the sun will align with the grid. Meanwhile, the full-sun New York City (NYC) natural phenomenon will be on display at the same time (8:12 p.m. EDT) on Saturday, May 30. The event was first named and observed by American astrophysicist and author Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who is also the director of the famed Hayden Planetarium. Check out a video of the well-known scientist discussing Manhattanhenge located at the end of the article.

Those interested in the best view of the event should head as far east as possible in Manhattan without losing sight of New Jersey. Optimal spots for viewing include cross streets such as 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th Streets. The borough of Queens should also serve as a prime viewing location. In fact, the nonprofit organization, Hunters Point Parks Conservancy, will host an event party, “LICHenge”, on Thursday, May 28, at Long Island City (LIC) Landing in the park. Due to the crowds, it is recommended that hopeful observers arrive 30 minutes to an hour early and keep an eye on the weather reports. If it is not clear weather, viewers will be out of luck.


Visitors and spectators who are not able to observe the NYC natural phenomenon on display during the May dates should not fret about it too much. Because Manhattanhenge happens twice a year, it will also occur on July 12 at 8:20 p.m. EDT (full sun), and July 13 at 8:21 p.m. EDT (half sun), this year.

What might viewers expect from this phenomenon? In optimal viewing conditions and weather permitting, the typical resulting effect of Manhattanhenge is a “radiant glow of light” that stretches across the buildings and skyscrapers in the city. It simultaneously illuminates both the south and north sides of every cross street in Manhattan’s street grid. The experience is unique and breathtaking. Tourists planning summer excursions to NYC might find it an event worthy of planning a trip around.

Four evenings a year, the brick, asphalt, and steel of Manhattan’s urban landscape experience a natural phenomenon. Manhattanhenge is a unique alignment of the cosmos and NYC metropolis on display. Framed by the famous cityscape and creating a breathtaking wash of illumination along the cross streets, the rays of the setting sun align perfectly with Manhattan’s street grid. Tyson observed the phenomenon and coined the term more than a decade ago. In the video below, Tyson discusses how he conjured the name and what the future might hold for the NYC natural phenomenon that is drawing crowds from all over the world.

As Manhattanhenge prepares to invade Gotham once again, the NYC natural phenomenon on display has become a well-known event for crowds of spectators from all over the globe. The half-sun event will commence at 8:12 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 29, while the full-sun NYC natural phenomenon will be on display at 8:12 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30. The event was first named and observed by American astrophysicist and author Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who discusses Manhattanhenge in detail in the video below.

By Leigh Haugh

New York Daily News–Manhattanhenge: How and Where to Take the Best Photos
NBC New York–Manhattanhenge to Be Seen This Weekend
Gothamist–Here Are All of the Manhattanhenge 2015 Dates
Huffington Post–Manhattanhenge 2015: Where to Get the Best Views This Weekend
Top Article Image Courtesy of Michael Condouris’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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