How to Watch Manhattanhenge 2020: What To Know About The New York City Sunrise Phenomenon

The first Manhattanhenge of the year will soon occur in the Big Apple. The annual phenomenon, during which the sun aligns with the Earth, will light up New York City on Wednesday.

Viewers will have to wake up early if they hope to catch the moment when the sun aligns with Manhattan's grid. People in New York City will be able to catch Manhattanhenge during sunrise at about 7:15 a.m. ET. The best place to view the event is at the intersection of 5th Avenue and 41st Street.

Unlike the natural wonders like Stonehenge in England—during which summer solstice is observed when the sun aligns with the center of the monument—Manhattanhenge doesn't determine anything particularly significant pertaining to weather or seasons.

How to Watch Manhattanhenge 2020 in New York City
The sun rises during a Manhattanhenge sunrise along 42nd Street behind the skyline of midtown Manhattan and the Empire State Building in New York City on November 30, 2019, as seen from Weehawken, New Jersey. Manhattanhenge will occur on January 22, 2020. Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

Manhattanhenge typically occurs four times a year—twice during sunrise and twice at sunset. The dates of the spectacle vary because of calendar events like leap year. Manhattanhenge sunsets are expected to occur between 14th and 57th streets later in the year on May 29 and July 12. However, determining the timing of the second sunrise event is a bit more complicated.

Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History, claimed Manhattanhenge sunrise events are harder to determine because the sun rises in the east—a busier side of the city—whereas it sets in the west, facing New Jersey and less obstructed views.

"It's much more eccentric on the buildings because you want that moment when the sun rises at the middle of your street," Faherty told USA Today, noting the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn skylines that could also interfere with Manhattanhenge sunrise.

"The thing is with Manhattanhenge sunrise, there is a day and time where it corresponds to the constructed grid of the city," she continued.

Faherty predicted the next dates for Manhattanhenge sunrise wouldn't occur until sometime in late November.

Manhattanhenge was first coined in 1997 by renowned astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, Neil deGrasse Tyson.

"The sun does not set in the same place on the horizon each day. In fact, when people recite that the sun 'rises in the east and sets in the west,' that's only true for two days per year—the spring and fall equinoxes. In principle, any city with a rectangular street grid would have a 'henge' but not all grids extend to the horizon," deGrasse Tyson said of the phenomenon. "Some hit forests or mountains. Others curve or bend, preventing the phenomenon from occurring. Manhattan's clear view to New Jersey—across the Hudson to the Palisades—makes an ideal setup for stunning sunsets."