Have you ever scrolled through Instagram and paused on someone’s incredible photo of a bright Manhattan skyline? You know, the one where the sun appears almost perfectly framed in between two buildings, with oranges, yellows, and reds painted into the sky between the large skyscrapers? While it may look like a filter was used to get that eye-catching skyline—it’s more likely a unique sunset known as Manhattanhenge. Here’s what you need to know.
What is Manhattanhenge?
Manhattanhenge is a unique sunrise phenomenon when the sun aligns perfectly with the city’s building skyline in Manhattan, New York. It’s something that happens only a few times a year when the sun is beautifully framed in the city and people get to stare in awe as they head home from a long day at work.
“It’s perfectly framed by the concrete jungle of New York City — I like to call it ‘astronomy in your face,’” Dr. Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) said. “Manhattanhenge is the event of the summer for the celebration of astronomy.”
When is Manhattanhenge happening?
There are a few times each year when Manhattanhenge will be viewable, but the next Manhattanhenge is just nine days. Some of the sunrises will be in the form of a half-sun—where the sun can be viewed in the phenomenon, but only half of it, and a full-sun where viewers get the most spectacular view of this unique sunset.
This year’s dates and times to view the phenomenon were announced by MTA Away, and are as follows:
- May 29 at 8:13 p.m. EST (Half Sun)
- May 30 at 8:12 p.m. EST (Full Sun)
- July 11 at 8:20 p.m. EST (Full Sun)
- July 12 at 8:21 p.m. EST (Half Sun)
“The sun changes its position in the sky at sunset every day given that we live in a revolving, rotating world,” Dr. Faherty said. “On the dates of Manhattanhenge sunset, the sun sets lined up with the grid of the city so perfectly framed by the concrete jungle of Manhattan.”
How can I see Manhattanhenge?
If you’re in New York, Dr. Faherty said that you can catch the Manhattanhenge on nearly any street in the city.
“Any street on the grid has a shot at being a great viewing spot for the event although some streets are clearly better than others. The street needs to be able to cross all the way to New Jersey,” she said. “And you don’t want one with a big slope so you struggle to catch the Sun at street level when it sets. My personal favorite streets right now are 145th street, 72nd street, 34th street and of course 42nd street!”
MTA Away has more details on the popular streets to catch the show, and how to plan a trip there in the subway if you’re unfamiliar.
Can’t see Manhattanhenge in person?
Of course, this spectacular show can only be seen in person in New York, but if you can’t make a trip there this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the show, too. Manhattanhenge is really popular on social media sites so scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, you’ll be able to see this how vicariously through the incredible photography.