Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

nass_news_2012_dec_WilkesboroSundial
[photoCourtesy of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot]

Some sundial artisans and their work are instantly recognizable.  Back in 2010 on the wall of the Yancey Times Journal building in Burnsville, North Carolina, astronomer Bob Hampton and artist Martin Weaver created the Quilt Block Sundial, an 8x8 foot vertical dial colorfully painted by volunteers from the Quilt Trails of North Carolina.

Read more: Wilkesboro Quilt Dial

nass_news_2012_mar_Lego_Sundial

What can 62 LEGO bricks build?  An equatorial sundial.  A recent dial building project demonstrates a very nice looking sundial dial built from regular LEGO elements.  The design is a classic equatorial sundial using a central north-pointing rod gnomon with shadow cast only hourly segments tilted at 15 degree increments.  The base swivels such that it can be adjusted for any latitude.

The building blocks use 1xN plates placed side by side on the underside of a 1x4x5 arch, creating the hourly progression of 15 degree tilted tiles.  In the design shown, two blue plates in the center bracket the noon mark.  Outer blue plates indicate 6am and 6pm. All you need to do is paste on the hour numerals. 

Read more: LEGO Sundial

nass_news_2012_jan_downton_abbey
[photo courtesy of John Foad]

Many have been following the Prime time Emmy Award winning series Downton Abbey on PBS.  This British World War I period drama was filmed on location at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which represents the fictional Downton Abbey.  Many outdoor scenes were filmed in the village of Bampton, Oxfordshire. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downton_Abbey )

As you follow the lives of aristocrats and servants in this acclaimed series, keep an eye out for sundials.  Attached is a photo noticed by NASS member John Foad.  Want to search for yourself?  Look for the dial in front of the hospital. The complete set of the series can be found on Amazon and Shop PBS.

And while you're at it, look for sundials in Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders, and Father Brown.  You'll be surprise how many sundials you will find.

Attachments:
Download this file (Dials_of_Downton_Abbey.pdf)Dials_of_Downton_Abbey.pdf[ ]313 kB

nass_news_2011_sept_joelmyers_2

On September 22, 2011 Penn State University dedicated a massive granite sundial donated by trustee and alumnus Joel Myers.  Designed and sculptured by artist Mark Mennin, it is installed in the university's arboretum.  At the dedication Myers  said, "We wanted to create something unique...The sundial is to be a destination".  Though still lacking a few final touches, such as a bit of polishing, the large granite dial is functional and tells time to the nearest minute.

 

Read more: Granite Sundial at Penn State

nass_news_2011_aug_heliodome
[photo credit: Vincent Kessler]

A three dimensional sundial house?  You can find it at 10 rue du Diebach, Cosswiller near Strasbourg in the countryside of Alsace in France.  Eric Wasser has created the "Heliodome", a tilted circular building aligned with the earth's polar axis that is a far cry from the old Buckminister Fuller "Bucky Domes".

The house has a glassed southern exposure to allow sunlight during the winter, but from the equatorial belt forward the house has a nearly conventional roof providing shade during the summer.   As Wasser explains on his website, "The passive solar house is an architectural volume, a Heliodome, determined by the diurnal and annual trajectory of the sun."  Read more about the details at http://www.heliodome.com/equipe.html.

nass_news_2011_july_sunglass_circle
[photo courtesy of
Jackie Jones]

All right mate, have a pint of golden sun.  You can pick up a sundial beer glass designed by Jackie Jones for 51o North at The Greys Pub in Southover Street Brighton, or if you're out of the country, the dial will work in Banff, Canada, the European cities of Calais, Brussels, and Dresden, and in Kazahstan or other points of equal latitude

The sundial glass motto? “Campaigning for real time”.  The sundial glass is a sun altitude type of dial using a frosted ring on one side of the glass to cast a spot of light onto the far side of the glass, calibrated with hour lines for the date of year.  Not a bad way to contemplate the time while having a sip. You can get your own sundial glass at http://sundialglass.wordpress.com/

056_albuquerque_mimosard
Thanks to Andy Robertson

Recent examination of our Sundial Registry revealed dials that no longer exist and have been replaced with something else that might resemble a sundial, but isn't.  Consider the brief entry of Dial 56 that may have once existed in Albuquerque, New Mexico on 9 Mimosa Road:

"5.5' stile, hour lines marked by 1/2' wire rope on grade. Total area is about 1000 square feet.  Analemmatic Dial" The description comes from a typed letter explaining that the dial was "built for research and marketing purposes".

Read more: It Looks Like a Sundial - But Is It?

nass_news_2011_jun_beetham

While using Google Maps, some artists living in the UK became unusual dialists when it occurred to them that the shadow cast by a skyscraper could be used as the gnomon of a really tall sundial.

The forty-seven story Beetham Tower in Manchester is 554 feet tall and dominates the city's skyline.  So it occurred to Annie Harrison, Jude Macpherson and Jacqueline Wylie to use the shadow cast by this structure to chart the progress of the sun as part of an art project.

Read more: 500 Foot Tall Gnomon Project