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Manhattanhenge Is Back, Here’s What You Need to Know

Manhattanhenge
Photographers gather on the Tudor City Place overpass to capture the Manhattenhenge looking across 42nd Street in the Manhattan borough of New York, New York, USA. Zoran Milich—Getty Images

For two weekends every year, the island of Manhattan gets a little Stonehengy.

Druids of New York City, break out those robes — the Manhattanhenge Solstice hath returned.

What is Manhattanhenge, you ask? We’ll leave it to the experts—in this case Neil deGrasse Tyson writing for the American Museum of Natural History—to tell you.

Sometimes known as the Manhattan Solstice, Manhattanhenge comes twice a year “when the setting Sun aligns precisely with Manhattan’s street grid, creating a radiant glow of light across Manhattan’s brick and steel canyons, simultaneously illuminating both the north and south sides of every cross street of the boroughs grid,” writes Tyson. “A rare and beautiful sight.”

For prime Manhattanhenge viewing, get as far east in Manhattan as possible with New Jersey still in sight and look west towards the horizon — 14th, 23rd, 34th and 42nd streets are all good bets for catching a glimpse of the phenomenon. On Friday, the full sun will hover over the horizon at 8:24 p.m. On Saturday, the phenomenon will repeat with a half sun on the horizon at 8:25 p.m.

Manhattanhenge gets its name from the way the sun plays on Stonehenge, the pre-historic ring of vertical stones in England’s Salisbury Plain that has mystified archaeologists for generations. Academics and poets alike have tried to deduce the meaning of the Stonehenge arrangement from the way the sun casts over the stones on the Summer Solstice, a guessing game Tyson plays on with a prediction about future archaeologists poking around the remains of our civilization that hits uncomfortably close to home.

“These two days [of Manhattanhenge] happen to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball’s All-Star break,” Tyson writes. “Future anthropologists might conclude that, via the Sun, the people who called themselves Americans worshiped War and Baseball.”

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