Manhattanhenge, the Manhattan Solstice — whatever you want to call it, it was this week and it appears to have been more popular than ever. So popular, even the New York Times published a story this year explaining when and where to watch.
It looks like this annual astronomical phenomenon is becoming New York City’s favorite Instagram holiday.
The magical sunset happens on two evenings every spring, as the sun is traveling north to its highest point in the sky at the summer solstice. With Manhattan’s very precise street grid, you can imagine that there would be a point in the year when the sun sets at the point on the horizon that’s visible if you look west down one of Manhattan’s east-west streets.
On these days, the sunset lines up with the grid and paints the town in a lovely orange and yellow glow. It’s really quite fabulous — if a rogue cloud doesn’t ruin your view.
It happens again in July as the sun treks south toward the equator, after the summer solstice.
Obviously, the “Manhattanhenge” name is a reference to Stonehenge, which was built in England around 3100 B.C., apparently as a way to mark the summer and winter solstices.
Given the nature of this phenomenon, which marks two important meteorological moments — the beginning of summer and New York City’s hottest days in mid-July — we think the Manhattan Solstice is probably a better name.