Phones up! Photo seekers crowd 42nd Street to view Manhattanhenge in 2019. (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

Every summer, New Yorkers obsess over images of west-facing streets flooded in golden light — the signature look of the annual “Manhattanhenge” phenomenon. The stunning sunset happens four nights out of every year, when the setting sun perfectly aligns with Manhattan’s east-west street grid and creates a blazing canyon of light.

Local science hero and astronomy whiz Neil deGrasse Tyson coined the term “Manhattanhenge” in a 1996 article for Natural History magazine. In the article, he compares the two series of days in New York when the setting sun perfectly aligns with the Manhattan street grid with the alignment of the sun at Stonehenge during the summer solstice.


The phenomenon can even be observed from across the Hudson! (Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

When Is Manhattanhenge 2020?

The Manhattanhenge phenomenon occurs across four days each summer in NYC. The dates are evenly spaced around the summer solstice, which this year occured on June 20. The first set of dates this season happened on May 29 and 30 — with the city on lockdown, and just before the curfew was enacted, so they weren’t seen by many people. Luckily, the next set of dates are in July:

  • Saturday, July 11 – 8:20 p.m. (“full sun”)
  • Sunday, July 12 – 8:21 p.m. (“half sun”)

The days of “full sun” mean the full orb of the sun will be visible above the NYC street horizon. “Half sun” means only half of the orb will be visible on the horizon. Keep your fingers crossed that rain or clouds don’t dampen the fun!


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Where to Watch Manhattanhenge

You’ll have the best view of Manhattanhenge along the borough’s widest crosstown thoroughfares: 14th Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, and 57th Street. Happily, these streets are also lined with interesting buildings to catch the light.


Socially distanced Manhattanhenge viewers in Times Square earlier this year. (Pablo Monsalve/Getty Images)

In a normal year, there are gathered crowds and viewing parties where New Yorkers can watch Manhattanhenge in the company of photo-op junkies and astronomy geeks. But 2020 is not a normal year, for obvious reasons. If you venture out to catch this natural wonder, please be safe: Practice social distancing, and wear a mask!

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