Manhattanhenge: an urban solar phenomenon

Manhattanhenge is an amazing coincidence of nature and the city where twice a year the setting sun aligns perfectly with the street grid of Manhattan in New York City. The result is a breathtaking view of Manhattan’s buildings lined with an orange glow radiating across the north and south sides of every cross street in the borough.

The term Manhattanhenge is derived from Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with the stones semi-annually during the solstice.  The dates of Manhattanhenge do not align with the equinox, as Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 29 degrees east from geographic north.

A map of Manhattan

It was discovered by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. Every year he releases the dates and times that Manhattanhenge occurs. Here are the dates for 2012:


Half sun

Half-sun on the grid:

Tuesday, May 29 at 8:17 pm

Thursday, July 12 at 8:25 pm



Full sun

Full-sun on the grid

Wednesday, May 30 at 8:16 pm

Wednesday, July 11 at 8:24 pm


Tyson suggests that you “arrive a half-hour earlier than the times given” and to “position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible but ensure that when you look west across the avenues that you can still see New Jersey.”

Don’t forget to grab the mTrip New York City Travel Guide App to help you get around the city.

images by: Dan Nguyen @ New York CityOpenStreetMap contributorsianqui and GRI SHA