A unique natural phenomenon takes place in an even more unique city. In New York City, “Manhattanhenge” refers to the alignment of the sunset (summer) or sunrise (winter) with the Manhattan street grid. On four days every year, the sun appears in between skyscrapers lining the East-West division of the city.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson popularized the name, “Manhattanhenge,” which compares the event to the ancient structure, Stonehenge in southern England. Like Stonehenge, the Manhattan street grid is positioned well to create unique solar alignments on those dates close to the winter and summer solstices.
The two solstices, winter and summer, are the days when the sun travels its most southerly and northerly paths, respectively, through the sky. The winter solstice, on December 21 or 22, corresponds with the shortest day of the year, while the summer solstice, June 21 or 22, marks the longest day of the year.
In the winter, the sun rises to create this effect on dates within the winter solstice. Alternatively, the sun sets and produces a similar spectacle on dates landing within the summer solstice.
This year, consecutive nights offered two slightly different sunset viewings. On Tuesday, May 29, at 8:13 PM, half of the disk glowed above the horizon. Then, on Wednesday, May 30, the whole sun could be seen above the grid, and just a minute sooner, at 8:12 PM. The next “Manhattanhenge” will occur on July 13.
Photos from Manhattanhenge
Manhattanhenge on social media
— DM (@stressdoc_) May 30, 2018
— Spooky Jane (@spooky_jane) May 31, 2018
— Cezary Podkul (@Cezary) May 31, 2018