Photo by ManicMaurice

The American Museum of Natural History's Neil deGrasse Tyson has updated his personal website with the 2011 Manhattanhenge dates, along with some poetic—albeit apocalyptic—thoughts. He asks, "What will future civilizations think of Manhattan Island when they dig it up and find a carefully laid out network of streets and avenues? Surely the grid would be presumed to have astronomical significance..." especially when the sun aligns in perfectly with the city's street grid (which he calls "a unique urban phenomenon in the world, if not the universe").

This year, those dates are Monday May 30th, and Tuesday July 12th; photographers will be out en masse those evenings capturing the "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." (Don't forget to send us your photos!)

deGrasse Tyson notes that these two dates are when "the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon," which is perfect for photographing. However, he says there are two other dates that also offer (full, as opposed to half sun) Manhattanhenge moments. Here's the time breakdown, so you can plan ahead:

  • Monday, May 30 — 8:17 P.M. EDT (half sun)
  • Tuesday, July 12 — 8:25 P.M. EDT (half sun) UPDATE: This has changed to July 13th.
  • Tuesday, May 31 — 8:17 P.M. EDT (full sun)
  • Monday, July 11 — 8:25 P.M. EDT (full sun) UPDATE: This has changed to July 12th.

For newcomers to the event, he suggests you position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible, while making sure when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Ideal streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, and 57th.