Get Ready to Hashtag at Manhattanhenge 2019

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Manhattanhenge is a twice-per-year astronomical event that wreaks havoc on New York City traffic and directly results in a #Manhattanhenge explosion on social media. Are you ready? Let's submit the phenomenon to the Five W's so you can get prepared for the event.

Who Can See It?

Anyone in the New York City area can see this event for free. Truly no-money fun for locals and visitors alike.

What Exactly is Manhattenhenge?

Twice a year, the sunset lines up perfectly with the Manhattan street grid in New York City. If you missed the not-so-obvious compass rose at the bottom right of the official New York City Metropolitan Transit Authorities' Subway Map, I am here to tell you that the Manhattan street grid is not perfectly north, south, east, and west. Because the grid has a 30-degree offset from true north, we get Manhattenhenge in late May (usually near Memorial Day) and mid-July. If the grid were perfectly aligned east-west, we would get Manhattenhenge on the equinoxes—how cool would that be?

American Museum of Natural History Hayden Planetarium Director and astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson gets credit for giving the popular name to the phenomenon.

Where Are the Best Places to View It?

The widest cross streets in Manhattan offer the best vantage points—14th Street, 34th Street (home of the B&H Photo SuperStore and miracles), 42nd Street, 57th Street, and 79th Street. Narrower streets on the grid work, as well.

Overpasses on the High Line and Tudor City also make great vantage points, but be sure to arrive early because Manhattanhenge brings out the crowds! Also, one of my favorite views of the city skyline can be found in Gantry Plaza State Park, in Long Island City; across the East River, in Queens. You can grab the 42nd Street view there with an expansive skyline. Nearby to the south, Hunter's Point will give you the view down 34th Street, and further down the East River, Bushwick Inlet Park aligns with 14th Street.

When Does Manhattanhenge Happen This Year?

The phenomenon spans two days over each event—four days per year. The first and last day are "half sun" days where the sun sets directly aligned with the grid, and you can get the classic shot of the sun bisected by the horizon (also known to New Yorkers as New Jersey). The middle days are "full sun" days where you can capture photos of the full sun at the end of the street.

2019 Schedule
May 29, 2019; Wednesday; Sunset: 2018 hrs. Half sun.
May 30, 2019; Thursday; Sunset: 2019 hrs. Full sun.
July 11, 2019; Thursday; Sunset: 2028 hrs. Full sun.
July 12, 2019; Friday; Sunset: 2028 hrs. Half sun.

Why Does Manhattenhenge Happen?

The planet Earth, an oblate spheroid (not flat), is tilted approximately 23.5 degrees from its orbital path around the Sun in the heliocentric solar system. Because of this, as the Earth rotates and orbits the sun, the time and angle of sunrise and sunset change throughout the year. When the angle of the sunset aligns with the street grid in Manhattan, we experience the celestial phenomenon of Manhattanhenge.

How Can I Guarantee a Clear Sky for the Event and How Can I Share My Photos?

You cannot guarantee a clear sky. One single tiny cloud can ruin the whole experience. But, if the sky stays clear, use the hashtag #Manhattanhenge and #BHPhoto and share your photos on B&H Photo's social media Facebook and Twitter feeds. We may even feature our favorites in a follow-on article or gallery!

6 Comments

Thank you for using my Manhattanhenge photo. Big honor.

Thanks for uploading it to Shutterstock, Edi!

Can you please put in this year's dates for Manhattan Hedge?

Hi John,

Stand by for a fully-updated article, but the 2019 dates are May 29-30 and July 11-12.

Be careful, sometimes you can over-plan this stuff, and it is way too cold to set up for the shot right now!

One of these days, Paula and I want to visit NYC. Photographing Manhattenhenge would greag as part of the trip, besides visiting B&H and other landmarks, like Central Park.

My birthday sometimes comes close to Memorial Day. But making a trip in July could be to celebrate a .5 anniversary since our anniversary is in December when it is frigid up there. Plus, the Hudson may be more temperate to water-ski; I water-skiied the Mississippi up by the Quad Cities. Both are about the same latitude.

Hey Ralph,

Last time I checked, you probably don't want to get wet on the Hudson! I teach sailing there and tell everyone to keep their mouths closed when we take spray over the bow! :)

Cheers!

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