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

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Amelia Peabody Sundial - Dover Town Library
photo: Maureen Sullivan (Wicked Local Dover)

Although Amelia Peabody died in 1984, her legacy and interest in sundials continues. In 1920 she moved to Dover, Delaware, and began raising thoroughbred horses. Ultimately she purchased more than 800 acres in Dover, becoming its largest land owner. She built three houses on her Powisset Farm, three other houses on other properties, and another called the Sun House at 145 Powisset St. in Dover.

As Eleanor Tedesco reports in the Wicked Local Dover on-line news, “The Sun House reflected her interest in heat generated by the power of the sun and was the first of its kind in New England. But the house failed to reach its goal of heating the building with the sun’s heat.” But true to its name, a graceful sundial in the shape of a Nautilus shell decorated her yard.

Read more: Amelia Peabody Sundial

nass_news_2014_jun_WestminsterDial
Westminster Dial with Analemma Casting Mirror on Top
Photo Credit: Robert Clark

How do you get the people of your town interested in astronomy?  Robert (Bob) L. Clark a retired professor of mathematics and computer science and member of the Westminster Astronomical Society had the obvious answer: Build a unique sundial.

In the grassy field next to Hoffman’s Ice Cream in Westminster, the Westminster Astronomical Society dedicated a simple horizontal dial attached to a pole with a unique “ornament” … a vertical south facing mirror.

Read more: Westminster Dial with Analemma

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?

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.

Read more: Four Minutes Til Sunset

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/.

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