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This curious phenomenon is seen just twice a year at the summer and winter solar solstices. On May 30, 2015 the sun sank spectacularly like a giant ball of fire – filling Manhattan’s east-west street grid.
#1 The term ‘Manhattanhenge’ was coined by the astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England which is thought to have been built by the ancients as a solar time marker. At Stonehenge’s summer and winter solstices the sun can be seen from the center of the monument as it aligns perfectly with the outer ‘Heel Stone’.
#2 The best viewpoints are to be facing west down 14th, 34th, 42nd or 57th street. Manhattan’s clear view to New Jersey across the Hudson makes the blazing solar disk reflect brilliantly off the steel and glass buildings.
#3 In theory this phenomenon happens in any city with a similar east-west street grid – but not all grids run straight and without interruption all the way to the horizon. Other cities who claim to have a henge are Baltimore, Chicago, Toronto and Montreal. It has been claimed that the phenomenon can even be observed on certain east-west roads (such as the I-80).
#4 The precise dates vary from year to year. In 2015 it is Thursday 29 May at 8.16pm (Half Sun on the Grid) and Friday 30 May at 8:18pm (Full Sun). If you missed it, it comes again on July 12 at 8.25pm (Half Sun) and July 13 at 8:24pm (Full Sun).
#5 Equally stunning is the Manhattanhenge sunrise, which can be observed at the winter solstices of early December and early January, when the sun rises over the grid.
#6 Manhattanhenge only occurs four times a year, but if you miss it, New York has ‘mini henges’ all the time. Every neighborhood in the five boroughs has a different grid so you can experience mini henges such as Greenpointhenge or Park Slopehenge throughout the year. You can a map of them here: