Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

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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?

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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

nass_news_2011_may_orovalley_3Its not often a sundial is also a monumental piece of sculpture weighing tons, but that is what developer Fred Steiniger installed this May at the Innovation Corporate Center in Oro Valley, Arizona.  Long-time NASS member and professional dialist John Carmichael was intimately involved with the 3-year long project, which is still ongoing.  Carmichael still has to install a noon-line sundial.  Project completion is sometime this year before the planned dedication slated for noon at Autumnal Equinox.

Read more: Oro Valley Sundial

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[all photos courtesy of Dennis Sanford,
3Peninsula College

Located in Port Angeles, Washington, Peninsula College recently dedicated a sundial measuring eight feet in height.  The dial is notable for its unusual design:  the basic construction is one of a polar dial, but also includes the sun's analemma so dial viewers can correct for the equation of time.

The dial was designed by the late Ben Davis and donated to the school in his honor by Honey Davis, his mother.   Installed on campus near the Science and Technology Building, Dr. Tom Keegan perhaps expressed sentiments the best when he said, “Honey Davis’ very generous gift to Peninsula College is deeply appreciated.  It’s fitting that it be placed by our Science and Technology Building so that Ben’s amazing engineering skills serve as an inspiration to our students and encourage them to stop and look and study his sundial."  

Read more: Peninsula College Sundial

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

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[photo courtesy of Martin Gutoski]

A nearly twenty year project to build a sundial near the Arctic Circle in Fairbanks, Alaska was finished this year by Martin Gutoski, a professional surveyor.  Gutoski conceived the idea in 1992 when he reviewed a survey for the local library in Fairbanks’ North Star Borough.  Originally out of concern for safe-guarding survey corners, he got in contact with a local club whose members saw to the landscaping of the library and other public buildings.  One thing lead to another and so began the odyssey that ended just recently. 

One interesting aspect that will appeal to anyone who has ever built or contemplated building a sundial is that the dial location is only about one and one-half degrees south of the Arctic Circle.   This is an aspect which Gutoski fully explored with models, first a small one and later a full-scale wooden one, before committing the design to its final form, which uses an airplane propeller for the gnomon.

Click on "Read More" below to see more photos of this sundial.

 

Read more: Wienhenge Sundial

nass_news_2011_april_dial_watchA novel wrist watch is being proposed which uses LED's instead of the sun to cast shadows.  Proposed by an individual named Anders who lives in Sweden, the watch, which is still just a concept, is read much like a conventional analog watch.  But instead of an hour hand and a minute hand, it uses LEDs which rotate around the outer ring of the dial and shine on a small gnomon at the center of the watch.  One LED casts a shadow for telling hours and another for telling minutes.  It is too soon to tell whether this concept watch will prove popular enough to manufacture.

Read more: Sundial Wrist Watch

A parasol that tells time.Primarily an industrial designer, Kota Nezu has designed a parasol for people who use their umbrellas for shade as well as staying dry.

With just a little bit of effort, Nezu's dial can be used to tell the approximate time of day and season of the year. The parasol comes equipped with a small compass to aid in lining things up.  And even though a true sundial aficionado might point out that a proper dial has to be designed for a specific latitude, this handly umbrella is sure to be a conversation starter come rain or shine.