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Four Things to Know About Manhattanhenge

by AMNH on

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Four nights a year, the streets of Manhattan’s grid become the site for a spectacular sunset phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about this event.

What is Manhattanhenge?

As Director of the Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson, who discovered the phenomenon and coined the term “Manhattanhenge,” explains in his Hayden Planetarium blog, Manhattanhenge takes place “when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid. A rare and beautiful sight.”

When does it take place?

In 2012, there are four chances to see Manhattanhenge. The full Sun can be seen on the horizon on Wednesday, May 30, at 8:16 pm and Wednesday, July 11, at 8:24 pm. On Tuesday, May 29, at 8:17 pm and Thursday, July 12, at 8:25 pm, half of the setting Sun can be seen from the grid.

Updated for 2014:

Half Sun on the Grid: Thursday, May 29, 8:18 PM EDT and Saturday, July 12, 8:25 PM EDT 

Full Sun on the Grid: Friday, May 30, 8:18 EDT and Friday, July 11, 8:24 PM EDT 

Where’s the best place to see it?

The best views are from the grid on the eastern side of Manhattan (looking toward New Jersey). Cross-streets including 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th offer good views. The Empire State Building and Chrysler Building at 34th and 42nd make nice backdrops for photos.

How can I learn more about Manhattanhenge?

On Wednesday, July 11 the Museum will host a Manhattanhenge program in the Hayden Planetarium about the astronomy behind this event. The program will be followed by a viewing of Manhattanhenge outside the Museum, with the opportunity to take photos.

Updated for 2014: 

The Museum will host a Manhattanhenge program on Friday, July 11 at 7PM. Learn more about the program here.

Enter this year’s Manhattanhenge photo contest to win two tickets to the July 11, 2012 event. Tweet your photo from May 29 or 30 @AMNH with the hashtag #Manhattanhenge or email your photo to