When Is Manhattanhenge? Tomorrow, So Mark Your Calendars, New Yorkers!
Twice a year, in an event known as Manhattanhenge, the island of Manhattan takes on the properties of the prehistoric monument Stonehenge, with the setting sun aligning precisely with the grid and giving light to a gorgeous visual phenomenon. And hey, guess what? The first 2014 Manhattanhenge is happening on May 29, so mark your calendars!
According to the American Museum of Natural History, half the sun will be visible on the grid on Thursday, May 29 at 8:16 p.m., with the full sun putting in an appearance on Friday, May 30 at 8:18 p.m. Business Insider recommends that you arrive at your viewing spot of choice about half an hour in advance; prime viewing spots include 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th Streets, with the Empire State building and the Chrysler building making the views on 34th and 42nd particularly striking. Pro tip: Position yourself as far east in Manhattan as you can, making sure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey.
Although Manhattanhenge is sometimes referred to as the Manhattan Solstice, astronomical all-star Neil deGrasse Tyson says that the term is a bit of a misnomer. “The word solstice translates from the Latin solstitium, meaning stopped sun, in reference to the winter and summer solstices where the Sun’s daily arc across the sky reaches its extreme southerly and northerly limits,” he wrote for the Museum of Natural History. “Manhattanhenge comes about because the Sun’s arc has not yet reached these limits, and is on route to them, as we catch a brief glimpse of the setting sun along the canyons of our narrow streets.”
Don’t worry if you miss it tomorrow or Friday, though; the next Manhattanhenge occurrence is just a few months away, with the full sun being visible on Friday, July 11 and 8:24 p.m and the half sun showing its face on Saturday, July 12 at 8:25 p.m. You can also view similar phenomena in various other cities at other times of the year: Baltimore, for instance, displays something similar in March and September, as does Chicago; Toronto has Torontohenge in October and February; and Montreal turns into Montrealhenge in July.
And now, your soundtrack for the event: “Stonehenge,” as performed by Spinal Tap at the Glastonbury Festival in 2009.