Twice a year, people flock the city’s streets to witness Manhattanhenge. The rare phenomenon is a popular photo opportunity and an event you shouldn’t miss if you are in New York at the right time.
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What is Manhattanhenge?
Manhattanhenge (also called “Manhattan Solstice”) is a phenomenon during which the setting sun aligns perfectly with Manhattan’s street grid, allowing the sunlight to beam through the East-West streets. The spectacle can be witnessed twice a year.
When is Manhattanhenge 2020?
In total, there are four days of Manhattanhenge to look forward to, two in May and two in July. During the first day of Manhattanhenge half of the sun can be seen on the grid. The next day, spectators can see the full sun. After the summer solstice in June, Manhattanhenge happens in reverse. While you’ll see the full sun on the first day, the day after shows you half the sun again. Here are the dates for Manahttanhenge 2020.
- May 29, 2020: 8:13 pm (half sun)
- May 30, 2020: 8:14 pm (full sun)
- July 12, 2020: 8:20 pm (full sun)
- July 13, 2020: 8:21 pm (half sun)
*times may be adjusted slightly by AMNH once we get closer to Manhattan Solstice
Where are the best spots to see Manhattanhenge?
The sun sets in the West, allowing it to stream light down Manhattan’s streets from New Jersey. Therefore, in order to see the Manhattanhenge spectacle, find am East-West street that has a clear view of the Garden State. You will have the best views of Manhattanhenge from these streets.
- 14th Street
- 23rd Street
- 35th Street
- 42nd Street
- 57th Street
To see the spectacle, try to be at one of those streets about 30 minutes earlier. The streets get extremely crowded, especially in Midtown, as everyone tries to catch a glimpse of the phenomenon. When you go there, be mindful of cars. Once the traffic light turns red for pedestrians, it’s time to clear the roads!
Prepare your camera for the perfect shot!
Manhattanhenge’s strong sunbeam creates difficult light conditions. In order to snap the perfect photo, be sure to adjust your settings beforehand and take a few test shots. Of course, you should also pray for no clouds blocking your views!
Reverse Manhattanhenge is the winter version of the Manhattanhenge allowing you to witness a special sunrise in January. It is, therefore, quite the opposite of the summer Manhattanhenge. The experience, however, is just as magical. The dates and times are both determined by Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History.
The sun typically lines up with Manhattan Streets shortly after 7 am and the best spots to see the phenomenon is at 41st Street & 5th Avenue. Because Reverse Manhattanhenge is lesser-known and takes place on cold January mornings, the streets are also less crowded! Yet, the time window to see a winter Manhattenhenge is also more narrow. By the time the sun rises high in the sky, there is no alignment anymore. You have to catch it just as it reaches the street level.
Winter Manhattanhenge 2020 took place on:
- January 11
- January 12
- January 22
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