Manhattanhenge is here!

This is a Hipmunk guest post from Jodi Ettenberg

This is a picture I took during last year’s Manhattanhenge, a jaw-droppingly beautiful spectacle that occurs when the sun sets just so between buildings in Midtown Manhattan. This surreal photo op only happens twice a year, when the sunset actually aligns with New York’s precise street grid and sets the skyscrapers aglow with light. 

This photo was at the corner of 51st street and 6th avenue, but there are several other great spots to see the sunset, and according to Gothamist, this summer’s Manhattanhenge is today and tomorrow.

The Hayden Planetarium provides some background:

Unnoticed by many, the sunset point actually creeps day to day along the horizon: northward until the first day of summer, then returning southward until the first day of winter. In spite of what pop-culture tells you, the Sun rises due east and sets due west only twice per year. On the equinoxes: the first day of spring and of autumn. Every other day, the Sun rises and sets elsewhere on the horizon. Had Manhattan’s grid been perfectly aligned with the geographic north-south line, then the days of Manhattanhenge would coincide with the equinoxes. But Manhattan’s street grid is rotated 30 degrees east from geographic north, shifting the days of alignment elsewhere into the calendar.

If you’re in New York today and tomorrow, you can view Manhattanhenge on the wider, clear cross streets (the ones that cut a swath directly across the city): 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets are each a great pick, as well those directly adjacent (the photo above was at 56th, so one before or after usually works). Of course, having the Empire State Building or the Chrysler building in your photo will be particularly iconic and thus 34th and 42nd streets will be popular choices for tonight’s show.

For those wanting learn more, you can also check out this evening’s talk at the planetarium about the Manhattanhenge phenomenon. (h/t to Kevin)

Enjoy! If any Hipmunks manage to catch the show today or tomorrow, link to your photos in the comments and we’ll include them in a post later this month.

-Jodi