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Manhattanhenge 2018: How to watch New York City's spectacular sunset

New York City residents get to witness a special kind of sunset known as "Manhattanhenge" this week. During the phenomenon, which occurs just a few times a year, the sun aligns perfectly with skyscrapers that sit on Manhattan's street grid, creating beautiful scenes made for picture-taking. 

What is Manhattanhenge?

The name Manhattanhenge was dubbed by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who likened the positioning of the sun at Stonehenge during the summer solstice to the sun's alignment across the borough of Manhattan. The event unfolds over two evenings each time.

"For these two days, as the Sun sets on the grid, half the disk sits above and half below the horizon," Tyson explained. "But the day after also offers Manhattanhenge moments, but at sunset, you instead will find the entire ball of the Sun on the horizon."

What time is Manhattanhenge 

The first of the Manhattanhenge sightings this season was Tuesday, May 29, at 8:13 p.m. The second viewing happened Wednesday, May 30, at 8:12 p.m.

If you missed the showing this week, fear not, there will be another chance July 12 at 8:20 p.m. and July 13 at 8:21 p.m.

Best place to watch Manhattanhenge

Tyson recommends to be as far east in Manhattan as possible for the best viewing opportunities. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th and several streets adjacent to them.

"Beyond the grid you need a clear view to the horizon, as Manhattan has across the Hudson River to New Jersey," he said. "And tall buildings that line the streets create a vertical channel to frame the setting Sun, creating a striking photographic opportunity."

Tips for the best photos 

Manhattanhenge is a popular event for photographers because of the spectacular vistas and a chance to showcase New York City in different light on social media. 

Antonio Di Benedetto, a product specialist at camera brand Leica, says "location is key" for the event and suggests taking a spot early before crowds show up closer to the sunset time.

"Finding a location is the biggest step," Di Benedetto said. "Those cross streets are special. Get your typical wide shot and try to mix it up and make it unique for yourself."

Ultimately, it's about soaking in the glow of Manhattanhenge -- which only happens a few nights a year.

"Enjoy it for the split second," Di Benedetto said. "Cameras can sometime distract us from the essence of the moment."

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