sunset NYC Manhattanhenge appears on 42nd Street in New York City. (Photo: mandritoiu/Shutterstock)

New York City is rarely the site of stunning astronomical wonders, but twice a year 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.

sun setting over NYC Manhattanhenge illuminates New York City's skyline at sunset. (Photo: Hit1912/Shutterstock)

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.

There are two main Manhattanhenge days per year, typically around Memorial Day and again in mid-July. These are known as the "full sun on the grid," but viewers can also see a "half sun on the grid" a day before the May event or a day after the July one.

In 2019, the two best Manhattanhenge experiences will occur Thursday, May 30, at 8:12 p.m. EDT, and again on Friday, July 12, at 8:20 p.m. The "half sun on the grid" views will take place Wednesday, May 29, at 8:13 p.m., and Saturday, July 13, at 8:21 p.m.

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.

Editor's note: This story was originally published in July 2015 and has been updated with more recent information.

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

New Yorkers line up for 'Manhattanhenge'
Manhattanhenge is an urban phenomenon in which the sun sets perfectly along New York City's east-west street grid.