Manhattanhenge in New York City
Credit: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

It’s that time of year again: the most mystical and magical phenomenon to occur every summer in the Big Apple.

Okay, so maybe we’re hyping it up a little, but Manhattanhenge is still a very cool astronomical event that draws huge crowds every year. You only have a few opportunities to see it in 2018, and finding the perfect spot to see Manhattanhenge will take some planning.

What is Manhattanhenge?

Each year before and after the summer solstice, the sun aligns perfectly with New York City’s street grid, creating a gorgeous sunset glow across the city, and there are certain parts that are prime viewing.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson popularized the term “Manhattanhenge,” describing it as “when the setting Sun aligns precisely with the Manhattan 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 borough's grid.”

The event normally occurs once in May, and once in July, so you’ve got only two shots at seeing it before having to wait another year.

Manhattanhenge Dates 2018

This year, the dates that Manhattanhenge will be on view are Tuesday, May 29 at 8:13 p.m. (half sunset) and Wednesday, May 30 at 8:12 p.m. (full sunset), local time. If you can’t get to the city in May, you’ll still have another change to view the phenomenon on Thursday, July 12 at 8:20 p.m. (full sunset) and Friday, July 13 at 8:21 p.m. (half sunset), local time.

The Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History will host a special presentation on Manhattanhenge on July 12 at 7 p.m with astrophysicist Jacqueline Faherty, senior scientist in the Department of Astrophysics at the museum.

How to See Manhattanhenge 2018

There are plenty of great viewing spots in NYC, including city parks (especially the High Line in the downtown area), rooftop bars or streetside bars with outdoor seating. The best cross streets are 14th, 34th, 42nd, 57th and 79th Streets from east to west, since they are wide blocks with interesting or historical buildings for framing your photos.

For a skyline view, you'll want to go across the East River to the northern part of Brooklyn or along the water in Queens. Gantry Plaza State Park and Hunter's Point South Park in Long Island City will be ideal (and likely very popular) spots to take in the view.

Bring your sunglasses and a camera.