It’s that time of year again, when New Yorkers gather at intersections to watch as the sun god descends between buildings. This Manhattan Solstice moment, which brings the sun into perfect alignment with the city’s street grid, is called Manhattanhenge, and it happens but four times a year — twice with a full sun, twice with a half sun (and all four times spectacular, weather permitting).
Manhattanhenge 2021 Dates
- Saturday, May 29th at 8:13 p.m. EDT (half sun)
- Sunday, May 30th at 8:12 p.m. EDT (full sun)
- Monday, July 12th at 8:20 p.m. EDT (full sun)
- Tuesday, July 13th at 8:21 p.m. EDT (half sun)
While there are some favored intersections to witness this phenomenon, astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, with the American Museum of Natural History, told Gothamist: “The grid of Manhattan offers great views of this astronomical event from as far south as 14th Street to as far north as Washington Heights. As long as you can see west across the Hudson and New Jersey, you won’t miss the event. Any given street on the grid of Manhattan might be a precious viewing gem.”
Faherty added that there’s an important and under-appreciated spectacle that she calls “the Manhattanhenge effect,” noting that the days between the first and the last events also offer the opportunity to “capture the sun between the buildings.” She explained that “every day after the [first] May event the sun will cross between the buildings at some point before it sets (it will just be higher than the ‘kiss moment’),” until the final July date, when the sun will say “goodbye to the grid” and “not cross again until the following year.”
While the first weekend of Manhattanhenge this year looks like a bust, with rain and clouds, “the Manhattanhenge effect” will be here through mid-July.