When the sun sets tonight at 8:21 PM, Manhattan will be a little more like England's most famous pagan runes. It'll happen for just an instant—for the last time this year—but in that moment the sun will align perfectly with the city's street grid, the light will shine straight through from the East River to the Hudson, coating both north and south sides of the street with its glow: Manhattanhenge.
For best viewing suggestions, it's wise to look no further than astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson, in fact, coined the term "Manhattanhenge" back in 1996. On the American Museum of Natural History's website, he advises:
"For best effect, position yourself as far east in Manhattan as possible. But ensure that when you look west across the avenues you can still see New Jersey. Clear cross streets include 14th, 23rd, 34th. 42nd, 57th, and several streets adjacent to them. The Empire State building and the Chrysler building render 34th street and 42nd streets especially striking vistas." Of course, you won't be the only one looking for the perfect vantage point. Says IBTimes, "While the Empire State building, Chrysler building and Times Square will make for a great photo opportunity, these locations will also be among the most crowded in the city."
Say you do get out of work early and happen to snag that perfect vista, though, it's best to come prepared with gear in tow. Suggests photographer Tom Grill, to capture the best shots of Manhattanhenge, bring two lenses: "One is a wide view that includes some of the story-telling detail of the city. The other is a tight, telephoto shot of the ball of the sun, perhaps combined with some to the city traffic to add interest."
As for lighting, he advises that you "point your camera to an area of the sky where the sun is just a tiny bit out of the frame, and take a light reading of this area." Since Instagrammers and pros alike will be shooting directly into the sun itself, neither a tripod nor a long exposure will be necessary. "An ISO setting of 200-400 should work fine for this, and should be sufficient to allow a fast enough shutter speed to hand-hold the camera at a lens opening of f/4-5.6," he explains.