Manhattanhenge - how to photograph New York's spectacular sunset event tonight

The sun rises above 42nd Street during a reverse 'Manhattanhenge' in New York, New York photographed from Weehawken, New Jersey on November 24, 2021. - 'Manhattanhenge' is a phenomenon during which the setting sun or the rising sun is aligned with the eastwest streets of the main street grid of Manhattan, New York City
Manhattanhenge sees a sunset aligned on the east-west grid of streets in Manhattan, New York City. (Image credit: Yuki Iwamura/Getty Images)

It’s almost time for the sun to ‘kiss the grid’ in New York City as ‘Manhattanhenge’ strikes again. You might think alignments are the kind of thing you’re more likely to see at Neolithic sites like Stonehenge, which aligns with the rising sun during solstices. However, planetary geometry and urban design mean that one major city is ideal for tracking the movements of the sun in the sky in a somewhat similar manner – with occasionally very dramatic consequences.

Here’s everything you need to know to see and photograph Manhattanhenge: 

Read: Night photography techniques, tips and tricks

What is Manhattanhenge?

Manhattanhenge is the urban phenomenon of the sun low on the horizon between the skyscrapers in Manhattan, New York City. For four sunsets and four sunrises every year it’s possible to position yourself on any of the east-west crossing numbered streets on the borough's grid to see the wondrous site. In practice, few aside from committed photographers ever bother with the sunrises (which occur in the depths of winter around December 5 and January 8), so Manhattanhenge in its practical sense relates largely to the four sunsets. They attract huge crowds of locals and tourists, and they come in pairs. There are two Manhattanhenge sunsets three weeks before June’s solstice and two more Manhattanhenge sunsets three weeks after. The exact times and dates for Manhattanhenge are produced by Jackie Faherty, an astrophysicist at NYC’s American Museum of Natural History

(Image credit: Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu Agency via Getty Image)

Manhattanhenge: what happens

Manhattanhenge sunsets happen on two successive nights about six weeks apart. One of each pair sees a ‘half-sun’ set dead on the grid between skyscrapers, so what you see is the top half of the sun. This is the ‘kiss the grid’ moment. The following or preceding night – depending on the time of year – the ‘full sun’ occurs, with all of the sun’s disk visible between the skyscrapers just before it touches the horizon. 

Read: The best cameras for astrophotography

When is Manhattanhenge 2023?

Here are are four Manhattanhenge sunsets (in the west) every year - but for 2023, two have have already happened. The dates are:

• Monday, May 29: half-sun Manhattanhenge sunset (8:13 p.m. EDT)

• Tuesday, May 30: full sun Manhattanhenge sunset (8:12 p.m. EDT)

• Wednesday, July 12 (8:20 p.m. EDT): full sun Manhattanhenge sunset

• Thursday, July 13 (8:21 p.m. EDT): half-sun Manhattanhenge sunset

• Friday, July 14 will also see a sunset very close to the grid.

Read: The best lenses for astrophotography

Don’t forget to capture your fellow photographers during Manhattanhenge! (Image credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Image)

Where's the best place to shoot Manhattanhenge?

Clouds can instantly ruin the spectacle, but it’s best to position yourself at intersections that have interesting buildings for the sun to set between. Any east-west street is fine, with better shots the farther east you position yourself. It’s best seen above 14th Street and below 155th Street, with prime spots being cross streets including 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets, according to AccuWeather.

The sun rises above 42nd Street during a reverse 'Manhattanhenge' in New York, New York photographed from Weehawken, New Jersey on November 24, 2021. - 'Manhattanhenge' is a phenomenon during which the setting sun or the rising sun is aligned with the eastwest streets of the main street grid of Manhattan, New York City.

Consider using the ‘starburst effect’ for Manhattanhenge (Image credit: Yuki Iwamura/Digital Camera World)

What's the best lens for shoot Manhattanhenge?

Although you can use absolutely any camera or smartphone, a zoom lens is handy for taking both wide-angle images of the cityscape – including some iconic buildings – and a close-up of the ‘kiss the grid’ moment. Nikon recommends using a tripod for slow shutter speeds or increasing the ISO for handheld images. Consider creating a sunburst by using a camera in Aperture priority or Manual Mode with a small f-stop of f/11 or higher.

Read: When to photograph the moon

Are there similar events in other cities?

Although Manhattanhenge is the most famous there are a lot of other very similar phenomena. Any city that has a grid system that’s orientated east-west will have some kind of ‘henge’ effect on similar dates including California Henge, Bostonhenge, Chicagohenge and Torontohenge

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Jamie Carter

Jamie has been writing about all aspects of technology for over 14 years, producing content for sites like TechRadar, T3, Forbes, Mashable, MSN, South China Morning Post, and BBC Wildlife, BBC Focus and BBC Sky At Night magazines. 

As the editor for, he has a wealth of enthusiasm and expertise for all things astrophotography, from capturing the Perseid Meteor Shower, lunar eclipses and ring of fire eclipses, photographing the moon and blood moon and more.

He also brings a great deal of knowledge on action cameras, 360 cameras, AI cameras, camera backpacks, telescopes, gimbals, tripods and all manner of photography equipment.