July 11, 2022

… Manhattanhenge may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on “Manhattanhenge” — when the sun perfectly sets between skyscrapers in New York City. Tuesday’s instance of this “phenomenon” will be the last for 2022.
  • Background: In the Northern Hemisphere, sunlight is at its peak intensity at the summer solstice, which is also the longest “day” of the year; throughout history, various cultures have recognized this day and monitored its impact on the change of the seasons. For example, the summer solstice is believed to have been celebrated for thousands of years in England at a prehistoric structure called Stonehenge; during the solstice, the sun perfectly aligns with specific parts of the structure.
  • “Manhattanhenge”: In a way somewhat reminiscent of Stonehenge, a similar event takes place four days out of the year in NYC — twice in the spring and twice in the summer. It occurs “when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the borough’s grid … A rare and beautiful sight,” Tyson explains.
  • Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, first used the term “Manhattanhenge” in 1997.

Big Picture: Tuesday, June 12, 2022, marks the final day this year that “Manhattanhenge” will take place in NYC; at exactly 8:21 p.m. Eastern Time, the top half of the sun above the horizon will be perfectly aligned between Manhattan’s buildings. On Monday, the full sun could be seen between buildings at 8:20 p.m. Eastern — the third occurrence of “Manhattanhenge” this year.

Manhattanhenge 2022 (American Museum of Natural History)

EXPLAINER: When is Manhattanhenge? Where can you see it? (Associated Press)

Manhattanhenge, a unique urban phenomenon, sets for the last time this year (NPR)

by Jenna Lee,