Manhattanhenge 2018: When, Where to See Sunset on New York City Grid

This year's final days of Manhattanhenge have arrived.

The sunset phenomenon in New York City gives residents and visitors a chance to photograph and view the sun lining up perfectly with the city's grid. There are four days a year when the sun lines up with the city’s grid, two of which already happened in late May and two which are set to occur Thursday and Friday.  

When Manhattanhenge comes around, spectators fill the street in the hour leading up to sunset: Some use the crosswalk and signals as cover, others take refuge in dividers or medians. New York's busy streets bustle with pedestrians hoping to catch a glimpse of the sunset, and possibly, a perfect photo.

manhattanhenge street People watch and photograph the sunset on 14th Street during 'Manhattanhenge' on May 29, 2013 in New York City. Mario Tama/Getty Images

The event was popularized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York and astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium head Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Tyson theorized that because of the way the sun sets several times a year along the city's grid, Manhattan appears to be intentionally designed to coincide with the sunset, just like Stonehenge appears to be set up to align with the sun during the solstices.

Manhattanhenge actually happens because as the year goes on, the sun actually rises and sets in a slightly different place along the horizons each day. Those small daily changes end up significantly moving the points of rise and set over the course of the entire year, causing the sun on four of those days to line up with the city’s grid.

The forecast for Thursday and Friday in New York City included some clouds but the sunset could still break through them, allowing viewers to get a glimpse of Manhattanhenge.

When to see Manhattanhenge:

Two days of Manhattanhenge have already passedbut anyone who missed it is in luck: There are two days left in the month of July. The sun will be completely on the grid of Manhattan for viewers to see Thursday, meaning the full circle of the sun will appear to hover above the horizon. Friday only the top half of the sun will be visible on the grid, the rest will be below the horizon. Both are best viewed around 8:20 p.m. EDT—so viewers should plan to be in place by that time.

Where to see Manhattanhenge Thursday and Friday:

There are several spots throughout the city that are optimal for viewing Manhattanhenge. The AMNH recommends viewing from the cross streets of 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets in the city. Some people like to view from near landmarks like the Empire State Building to get the iconic building in the photo as well.

manhattan sunset A view of the 'Manhattanhenge' sunset from Hunters Point South Park, July 11, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. Drew Angerer/Getty Images