Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Dials of Interest

Sundials of significant interest either because of artisan, design, history, or placement.  An unusal set of dials that should stir anyone's interest

The Battle Point Astronomical Association, founded in 1992, provides astronomical observing for science education and public enjoyment at Ritchie Observatory and Planetarium in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Read more: Bainbridge Island Equatorial Sundial

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Telling Time with Precision
(By Permission - Bill Gottesman)

The Andalusia Star News reports that the Lurleen B. Wallace (LBW) Community College in Andalusia, Alabama, has a new timepiece that President Herb Riedel says, “… is a device used for practical purposes to keep time, but they also take on a symbolic meeting. For a college campus, I thought it would be very appropriate because it combines science and art.”

Indeed, the sundial is a large helical sundial, a modern “Renaissance” sundial designed by Bill Gottesman of Precision Sundials in Vermont.

Read more: Renaissance Dial - It's Academic

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[photo courtesy of John Carmichael]

In 2002, the North American Sundial Society recognized John Carmichael with the Sawyer Dialing Prize as an eminent artisan who creates a wide variety of sundials, principally in stone and glass. In recognition, John received a small brass equatorial sundial made by the renowned British artisan Tony Moss.  But for nearly a decade the sundial remained on John's workbench never seeing the full light of day.

Recently Mr. Carmichael completed a 24:1-scale model railroad in his back yard (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/sets/72157632430552837/with/8348506244/). Now his Sawyer Dialing Prize sundial finally sits in the Arizona sun as a miniature "Monumental Sundial" at the Trolley Station.  At the 24:1 scale, the 3-inch dial assumes the proportion of a large 6-foot equatorial sundial. You can see John Carmichael's dials at http://www.sundialsculptures.com/.

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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

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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

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[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.

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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

bowiecityhalldial-viewAfter more than a year of construction, the new Bowie City Hall and the Bowie Portal Dial off Evergreen Parkway and Emerald Avenue in Bowie, Maryland, will be dedicated on the 7th of May, 2011.  The City Hall, Police Station along with two works of public art, an interior mobile and the 15-foot steel and bronze sundial will grace the City of Bowie

Read more: Bowie Dial Dedicated