Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

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Richard Mallet at Cornell Univ. SundialRichard Mallet at Cornell Univ. Sundial

Richard Mallet, former British Sundial Society Trustee, Council Member and former BSS Webmaster passed away on Nov 7th, 2016 with funeral held on Dec 12th, 2016. He lived in Eaton Bray, UK and had many interest in physics, mathematics, and sundialing.  Those of us maintaining websites know of the difficulty in perserving order, yet always allowing for expansion of new material. "After a near disaster with the [British] Sundial Society's then  heavily modified and entirely non-compliant website, Richard stepped in at no charge to the Society to rewrite it using the then new Expression Web software from Microsoft.  This proved very successful and was of course fully W3C compliant."

Over the next year, the North American Sundial Society website will migrate from an older version of  the Joomla Content Management System to the fully maintainable Joomla 3.x version.  The majority of content and organization will remain intact, but new innovations are expected.

Read more about Richard Mallet's life at: http://www.ppowers.com/mallett.htm

Read The Seattle Times article of May 14, 2013: http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020985468_sundialxml.html

nass_news_2013_may_Sullivan_DialIn the May 14, 2013 edition of The Seattle Times University of Washington professor Woody Sullivan was honored as ‘Mr. Sundial’ for his persistence in declaring Seattle as the Sundial Capital of North America. Dr. Sullivan has worked on more than a dozen dials in Seattle, including the large 20x30 foot vertical dial on southwest wall of the Physics and Astronomy building at UW and the elegant 11x17 foot reflection sundial painted on the ceiling of his garage at N 47° 41.232, W 122° 21.562.  A small circular mirror outside the south facing window reflects a spot of light onto the ceiling.

The reflection sundial was a labor of love taking over 3 years to create.  Woody marked over 700 locations on the ceiling that allowed him to draw the local solar time, dates, hours of daylight, solar azimuth and altitude, analemma, and even hours to dawn.  And being a radio astronomer, he marked the transit sidereal time for two radio sources.  The dial was painted with marvelous beauty by a local mural artist, Jim Noonan.  The sundial is very personal to Woody, showing time marks for the date he married to the birthdays of himself, his wife, and two daughters.  The zodiac painted along the ecliptic has a local touch, representing Pisces by a pair of sockeye; Cancer by a Dungeness crab; and Capricorn as a mountain goat. There is even a compass rose.

nass_news_2013_may_UW_dialFred Sawyer, president of the North American Sundial Society (NASS) is quoted by Erik Lacitis, Seattle Times staff reporter, saying “it’s likely true that Sullivan’s garage sundial is one of the best in North America.”  When the NASS visited Seattle for the 2011 annual sundial conference, they visited Woody’s Reflection Dial and a marker was added to it for the date and time of itsofficial dial dedication held on Saturday 22 August 2011. “We toasted the sundial with an appropriate wine, ‘Wehlener Sonnenuhr’ by Joh. Hos. Prum, the fine Mosel Kabinett from the German vineyard with a large vertical sundial.” said Roger Bailey, the society’s secretary.

Among Dr. Sullivan’s accomplishments in the world of sundials began in the early 1990’s when the University of Washington’s Physics and Astronomy Building was being designed.  He suggested a large vertical (southwest declining) sundial.  The dial was completed in 1994 and Woody was hooked. He also helped design sundials used on the Mars exploration rovers Sprit and Opportunity that landed ion the Martian surface in 2004.  A campaign to build sundials all around our world ensued with the motto “Two Worlds One Sun”.  [photos from NASS]

This Sundials for Starters appeared in The Comendium in June 2010

by Robert Kellogg, Ph.D.

Some years ago I had the thrill of reading the Tiberius manuscript1, which in Old English presented a horologium, a set of shadow lengths, from somewhere in England. The shadow lengths were given throughout the year, such as on Christ’s Mass day where “the shadow at [mid] morning and nine [halfway through the afternoon] is twenty [less] a heel foot and at midday four and twenty.” 

1 MS Cotton Tiberius A, iii – folio 179 o/v British Museum, Manuscript Library

Read more: Meridiana

Ing. Gianni Ferrari was awarded the 2015 Sawyer Dialing prize, with his certificate acknowledging: "for his long career educating the dialing community about the nearly forgotten heritage of ancient Islamic gnomonics and the wide variety of modern analytically developed sundials."  Since 2000 Gianni has contributed nearly 30 articles to the NASS Compendium, enriching dialists' knowledge around the world.  Recently he published the books Le Meridiane Dell'Antico Islam (Sundials of Ancient Islam) and Formule e metodi per lo studio degli orologi solari piani - Caratteristiche, descrizione e calcolo degli orologi solar paini comuni e pop conosciuti  (Formulae and methods for the study of flat sundials - with characteristics, descriptions and calculations of common and less known sundials).  Gianni's acceptance presentation for the conference was on "Forgotten Dialing Formulas" using versines.  The versine trigonometric function was engraved on ancient quadrants, forming the small arcs "versus" and "rectus" that were used for solving the Astronomical Triangle to derive solar azimuth and hour angle time.  Those that have learned to navigate with a sextant may indeed remember using half versines or "haversines" tables. His presentation is in the September 2015 issue of the NASS The Compendium.  Gianni was not able to attend the NASS Conference in Victoria, but sent greetings from Italy. He asked that NASS donate the $200 prize money to benefit an appropriate dialing cause.  Like other dialing prize recipients, he received a Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.  Gianni's dial was designed for his home in Modena, Italy at 44o 34' N 10o 51' E.

http://www.artisanindustrials.com/world-of-sundials/spectra-sundial-modena-italy.html

This Sundials for Starters appeared in The Compendium in September, 2009
by Robert L. Kellogg, Ph.D.

henge-urbancanyonfig-1

One of the more interesting news items over the last several months has been the “Manhattan Henge” craze.  Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, calculated the alignment of the sundown the street corridors of Manhattan (Fig. 1).  For New Yorkers, two opportunities for alignment occur.  The streets are aligned 28.9o east from North, and the sun sets near this at this azimuth on May 30-31 and July 11-12.

These alignments are just a small part of “shadow planes” where the shadow of the sun aligns with a building wall or other object.  The best description of shadow planes comes from the NASS expert, Mac Oglesby and his compatriots William Maddux and Fer deVries in a series of three articles in The Compendium.[1]

Read more: Manhattan Henge

Dear Friends,

A great loss has hit our gnomonic community in Italy. Our friend Giacomo Agnelli died about a week ago.  Giacomo was one of the great gnomonists of the past. He had written dozens of articles in engineering and horology, also dealing with mechatronics [mechanical] sundials. He had worked at the European space project, and had frequent ...articles for our magazines [on] gnomonics. He had participated in all meetings of horology in Italy and was known for his satirical cartoons and gnomonic caricatures ...

Nicola Severino                      Visit A Tribute to Giacomo Agnelli

[from the Sundial Mailing List, sundial Digest, Vol 71, Issue 3 https://lists.uni-koeln.de/mailman/listinfo/sundial  ]

Sawyer Prize to Robert KelloggAt the 2014 NASS Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, Fred Sawyer announced this year’s Sawyer Dialing Award is given to Robert Kellogg, “who, through his constant outreach, his unflagging support of NASS, and his technical ingenuity, as evidenced by his invention of the digital sundial, has helped to usher dialing into the modern age.”

Bob designed and patented a digital sundial based on sunbeam projection, first considered when he was at the US Naval Postgraduate School.  But it took more than a decade for those ideas to gel into a firm technical form and a US Patent.

Bob continues to write “Sundials for Starters”, a regular column for NASS's Compendium. Over the last several years he has organized the joint NASS-Analemma Society outreach at the US Science and Engineering Festival and has brought sundialing to Montgomery County Schools in Maryland for the last 20 years.

Fred Sawyer presented Bob with an award certificate, the traditional cash prize of $200 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.

http://www.artisanindustrials.com/world-of-sundials/spectra-sundial-potomac.html

Ellipsoidal Gnomon SundialThe 2015 NASS Sundial Conference was held in Victoria, B.C.  Roger Bailey organized the conference and provided a sundial tour in Victoria, stopping at the BC Legislature Rose Garden dial, the St. Ann's Academy dial, Christ Church Cathedral vertical dial, the BC Government House totem sundial, and more, including a visit out to the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory to see the 1.8 meter telescope.

Steve Luecking discussed spherical and elliptical gnomons where tangent points are dropped to a circle circumscribing the ellipse and hour lines are then drawn as tangents from the points on the circle.  Steve used this technique to design a sundial using an elliptical gnomon with symbolic native art for Victoria. (Illustration at right)

Len Berggren described the design and building of a sundial that can show both solar and mean time, done with a $1000 grant from NASS.  Presentations included John Schilke discussing the Heliotrope and Heliograph.  Barry Duell outlined the history of a sundial at Willamette University donated by the Class of 1916.  The dial was dedicated to Prof. Matthews and engraved with his motto of "Sagacity, Audacity, Holiness, Chairty."

Prof. Woody Sullivan described 3 new dials.  The first two, an Oculus table and a Solar Hour Benches are at the San Francisco Exploratorium.  The third dial at the Very Large Array Radio Telescope in New Mexico is the world's first and only sundial made from one of the original radio telescopes.  It was constructed in memory of Prof. Ron Bracewell of Stanford Univ. a pioneer in radio astronomy.

Jackie Jones, Doug Bateman, Sasch Stephens, Fred Sawyer, and Mark Montgomery presented a wide range of topics from reflecting dials, elliptical dials and moon dials, to ancient Egyptian shadow clocks.  Bob Kellogg, unable to attend, sent along a video on a new digital gnomon sundial, while Frank King and Steve Luecking discussed optical geometries and illusions. (Read more in the attached dowloadable PDF)

This year's Sawyer Dialing Prize was awarded to Ing. Gianni Ferrari "for his long career educating the dialing community about the nearly forgotten heritage of ancient Islamic gnomonics and the wide variety of modern analytically developed sundial." (Read more about the Sawyer Dialing Prize)

Attachments:
Download this file (2015 NASS Conference Victoria.pdf)2015 NASS Conference - Victoria[Victoria Conference]1043 kB

Subcategories

  • Sundials for Starters
    Article Count:
    6
  • Conferences
    Article Count:
    23
  • Sawyer Dialing Prize
    Fred Sawyer, in cooperation with the North American Sundial Society, established a continuing yearly award, the Sawyer Dialing Prize to be presented by NASS to an individual for accomplishments in or contributions to dialing and the dialing community.
    Article Count:
    19
  • Terwilliger Sundials
    In these pages is the famous tub sundial created by Robert Terwilliger using his laser trigon to lay out hour lines on a very irregular surface to create a working sundial.
    Article Count:
    1
  • Biographies

    Who are today's sundial artisans?  Here are several bioghraphies of several artisans that show the unique combination of talents in art, engineering, and mathematics.

    Article Count:
    6