Sunsets are not regularly visible to most of Manhattan. But tonight, if you stand in the right place, you’ll see one.
It’s Manhattanhenge. Just before sunset, the sun will line up with Manhattan’s cross streets. For 15 minutes, beginning just after 8 p.m., the sun will appear on the edge of the grid in half-disk form, like a postcard. It will illuminate the city’s deep canyons and wash the streets in peachy light. Then it will set on the streets’ center lines, at 8:16. The term Manhattanhenge was popularized by Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium. The phenomenon reminded him of Stonehenge, where the sun aligns with several of the ancient stones on the summer solstice. If Manhattan’s grid ran strictly north-south and east-west, Manhattanhenge would fall on the spring and fall equinoxes. But it is turned about 30 degrees east from due north. Dr. Tyson has said that Manhattanhenge “may just be a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe.”
The best viewing spots are on the major crosstown streets below Central Park.