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When sun and streets align: Manhattanhenge to make city glow tonight

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NEW YORK (PIX11) — It happens just twice a year, but when it does, it’s spectacular.

Manhattanhenge, when the sun aligns with the Manhattan street grid, is set to light up the north and sound sides of every cross street across the borough Thursday.

Sunset will happen about 8:16 p.m. Thursday

Skygazers are encouraged to set up shop as far east in Manhattan as possible — and show up about half an hour before hand because the sidewalks will get crowded.

The best viewing will be along 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th streets, and at the Empire State and Chrysler buildings.

Manhattanhenge gets its name from the prehistoric monument Stonehenge in England, the tall stones of which are aligned perfectly with the sun to signal the change of season.

There are two ways to see the solar phenomenon.

On Thursday night as the sun sets, half the disk will be above the horizon and half will be below the horizon. On Friday night, the entire ball of the sun sits on the horizon.

Any city situated on a rectangular grid can find days when the sun lines up with its streets, but few — if any — have the perfect conditions that Manhattan does, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote in a blog for the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

A clear view beyond the grid is vital, and Manhattan has it in a straight, unobstructed shot across the Hudson River to New Jersey. Not to mention the skyscrapers that line the streets frame the sun in a way that’s picture perfect.

NYC’s next unique alignment will fall on July 12.