How to catch the rare ‘California Henge’ this weekend

A photo of the sun rising over the Bay Bridge framed by city blocks in San Francisco.
Photographers gather at California and Gough streets twice a year to catch the sun rising over the Bay Bridge.
(Pankaj Bhargava)

Perhaps you’ve heard of the special cityscape vista that’s become known as Manhattanhenge or even Bostonhenge, the phenomenon when the sunset falls perfectly between city blocks, drawing onlookers and photographers for a rare glimmering view.

The West Coast version of that occurrence is now gaining in popularity, with Bay Area photographers preparing for the opportunity to capture the “California Henge” or the “San Francisco Henge” this weekend.

The sunrise is expected to perfectly align with the city’s street grid beginning Saturday morning, according to San Francisco-area photographers who are hoping the weather will cooperate for some stunning images.


“The San Francisco weather has been so tricky,” said Pankaj Bhargava, an amateur photographer who will stake out a spot to try to capture the view for his fifth year in a row. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”

Based on his tracking, the sunrise will align at the intersection of California and Gough streets — the buildings perfectly framing the sun — and over the Bay Bridge for only a few moments beginning Saturday through Monday, just before 7 a.m. It’s a phenomenon that happens only twice a year, in April and September.

Bhargava said that during his eight or nine attempts to capture the view, only about half have worked out due to cloudy or rainy weather.

But since his first trip to the spot, he said, the number of photographers staked out for a perfect shot has more than doubled.

“People have heard a lot about Manhattanhenge, but the California Henge or San Francisco Henge is not that famous,” Bhargava said. “I’ve seen a gradual increase of interest.”

He said it has become a bit easier to catch the phenomenon the last few years as the Bay Area’s community of photographers has grown and relied on one another, and some apps have improved how they can track the sun’s position.


There are a few intersections from which the alignment is perfect, Bhargava said, but it just depends what perspective a photographer wants; he plans to be at California and Gough, likely on Sunday when the weather looks best, to catch the Bay Bridge in the background.

“One shot I really want is somebody crossing the street under the sun,” Bhargava said, who lives in Mountain View but will drive in for the phenomenon. “For me, it’s very exciting to capture.”