New York City is known for its skyscrapers and industrial landscape. But it’s also the prime location to see the naturally occurring phenomenon known as Manhattanhenge. Twice a year, in June and July, the sun lines up perfectly with Manhattan’s East-West numbered streets and creates a cinematic spectacle. On Tuesday, July 12, the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium is hosting a special one-night event to explain the history and astronomy behind Manhattanhenge. Before gathering on the city streets, join astrophysicist Jackie Faherty at 7 pm for a special presentation, followed by a group viewing on 79th Street.
The term “Manhattanhenge” was coined by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson as a play on the word “Stonehenge.” In a video interview, Tyson tells the Museum of Natural History that he visited the British Isles to study stone monuments similar to Stonehenge. “The concept of stones aligning with the cosmos was deep within me for a long time,” says Tyson.
The July Manhattanhenge dates are Monday the 11th at 8:20 pm when the full sun can be seen on the horizon, and Tuesday, July 12th at 8:20 pm, when the half sun can be seen on the horizon. Manhattanhenge is viewable from virtually any cross street, but some of the best viewing locations are along 14th, 23rd, 42nd, 57th and 79th Streets. The museum suggests that people should arrive at the locations at least half an hour before 8:20 for optimal viewing.
Watch the video from 2013 to hear Neil deGrasse Tyson’s entire Manhattanhenge explanation.
Next, read about The Top 12 Secrets of NYC’s Museum of Natural History and Daily What?! There’s a Stargazing Club on the High Line. Get in touch with the author @jen_bagcal