Yesterday (Tuesday, 12 July 2022), Manhattanhenge set on the Big Apple for the last time this year, meaning New Yorkers are going to have to wait until 2023 to witness the spectacle again.
On Monday and Tuesday this week, the sun set in perfect alignment with the wide boulevards running between New York’s skyscrapers.
The phenomenon affords viewers a spectacular view – and a chance to “marvel at the serendipitous city planning that made Manhattanhenge possible”, writes NPR.
So the question is: when is Manhattanhenge 2023? And for those too impatient to wait until 2023 to witness something like it, are there any comparable events you can witness in lieu?
When will the Manhattanhenge urban phenomenon occur in 2023?
Manhattanhenge usually takes place four times a year. Twice in spring, twice in summer.
That means two consecutive days in spring and two consecutive days in summer – not on four distinct occasions. So depending on how you look at it, there are really two opportunities per year to witness Manhattanhenge at sunset.
The precise dates of Manhattanhenge depend on when the summer solstice takes place. But the summer solstice is almost always on 21 June, so the dates of Manhattanhenge rarely change from what they are normally.
The next opportunity to see Manhattanhenge at sunset in New York will almost certainly be on 29 May 2023. It will also be visible the following day, on 30 May.
Following that, the summer dates will likely be 12 and 13 July 2023 – same as the dates Manhattanhenge was visible this year.
But the Manhattanhenge phenomenon also occurs at sunrise and on different dates
Many people think of Manhattanhenge as a purely evening-based phenomenon. But it also occurs in the morning, during sunrise, in different months of the year.
The sunset events happen either side of the summer solstice, while the sunrise events flank the winter solstice.
Sunrise alignments therefore usually occur on 5 December and 8 January.
So if you were unable to catch Manhattanhenge in 2022 and have to wait until 2023 – or if you’ll be in New York towards the end of the year – there are actually four occasions on which to witness the event.
These are: 5 December 2022 (morning), 8 January 2023 (morning), 28-29 May 2023 (evening) and 12-13 July 2023 (evening).
Who coined ‘Manhattanhenge’, and which streets can you see it from?
American astrophysicist and science communicator Neil deGrasse Tyson coined the term “Manhattanhenge” in 2001.
He wrote an article for the American Museum of Natural History that year in which he asked what future civilisations would think of Manhattan Island “when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues”.
Tyson observed that, in Manhattan, “a place where evening matters more than morning”, twice a year the sun rises “in perfect alignment” with “Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons”.
You can see Manhattanhenge at sunset from Manhattan’s major east/west roads: 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th Streets. Neil deGrasse Tyson especially recommends viewing it from the Tudor City Overpass or Hunter’s Point South Park, in Long Island City, Queens.
Are there phenomena like it in other cities besides New York?
Yes. Because of US city planners’ penchant for uniform street grids, the same phenomenon occurs in other cities across the country.
MIThenge occurs in Cambridge, Massachusetts on about 29 January and 11 November each year. On those dates – or thereabouts – the setting sun is visible across the length of the 823ft “Infinite Corridor”.
And finally, when architects designing the centre of UK city Milton Keynes discovered that its Main Street almost perfectly framed the rising sun on Midsummer Day (and the setting sun on Midwinter Day), they persuaded their engineers to adjust the angle of the grid of roads by a few degrees.