Manhattanhenge on 42nd street The sunset aligns with the Manhattan street grid in this 2013 image. (Photo: Greg Chow)

New York City is rarely the site of stunning astronomical wonders, but twice a year — including this week on May 30 — residents and tourists are treated to a special solar event. During Manhattanhenge, the sun sets perfectly along the city's east-west street grid.

The term "Manhattanhenge" was coined in 2002 by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson in reference to England's Stonehenge, a prehistoric monument known for its mysterious origins and dramatic solstice alignments.

Ever since Tyson brought mainstream attention to Manhattanhenge, hundreds of New Yorkers have established a tradition of gathering along 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, 57th and some parallel streets to witness a stunning skyscraper-framed sunset. In 2017, the "full sun on the grid" -- the absolute best Manhattanhenge experience -- comes on Tuesday, May 30 at 8:12 p.m. New York time. It comes around again on July 12th at 8:20 p.m. (If you miss that one, you can see a so-called "half sun on the grid" the next day, July 13.) The popularity of the event has spiked in recent years, so observers are encouraged to show up at least a half-hour early to get a good view.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.