Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Eight years ago the University of Western Australia (UWA) commissioned a talented graduate, artist Shaun Tan, to create an impressionistic sundial for the 100th anniversary of UWA.  The fundamentals of the west-facing sundial were delineated by UWA Professor Peter Kovesi of the Geophysics and Image Analysis Group.

What Shaun artistically designed based on Professor Kovesi’s hour lines was carefully photographed, scanned and reproduced as a pixilated map that was turned into 337,600 glass chips (tessera) by artisan tiler Iain H. Middleton from V-vo Architectural Mosaics, with Ankit Gakhar, Darren Hay and Brody Osborne.  The mosaic suppliers Bisazza from Vicenza, Italy selected the colored glass to give Shaun Tan’s brilliance as well as accuracy.  They prepared 375 squares each containing 900 individual tessera and shipped them from Vicenza to Perth.  In all, UWA states that “To create the background, place the tiles, clean and detail, grout and polish has taken approximately 560 man-hours.”

The 4.56×8.0 m. sundial was unveiled in January 2013, mounted with precision on a west wall of the University Club building located on the UWA campus in Crawley, Perth. A star-shaped gnomon with an open annulus casts a spot of time on the wall.  During the course of the afternoon, the spot moves from the bottom of the wall to the top, recording Italian Hours until sunset, a common and practical way of measuring time used since the Arabic sundial of al-Shatir in 1371.  The final sunset line is a race between the gnomon shadow and a shadow from a further western building.  Watch the time-lapse video created by Nic Montagu to see which shadow wins the race.  The dial marks the annual limits of the sun’s shadow at the solstices (summer on the left hand and winter on the right hand side) and a middle line for the equinoxes.

Read the full details at: http://hourstosunset.com/