Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

nass_news_2012_aug_FlemingSundialsA new sundial project called “Meantime in Greenwich” opened on “Dingle Day” August 6th in Sir Sandford Fleming Park (affectionately known as “Dingle Park”) located in the Halifax Regional Municipality of  Nova Scotia.   Media artist David Clark created a series of 24 horizontal sundials that surround the Memorial (Dingle) Tower, a site that once had been Fleming's summer home.  Visitors to the public exhibit can download a free app onto their phone or iPad and hear an audio story when they approach each sundial.  For iPhone users, aiming its camera at the sundial triggers a 3D object to appear on the screen.  As Clark describes it, “Each sundial becomes a pedestal for virtual reality.  Everybody becomes their own cinema.”

nass_news_2012_aug_FlemingMuralThe public art project honors Sir Sandford Fleming, Chief Engineer of the Northern Railway Grand Trunk Railway who devised standard time. His original idea was Cosmic Time, what we now call Universal Time that is independent of longitude.  In 1879 he proposed that time be linked to the anti-meridian of Greenwich (180o longitude) and lobbied for the use of time zones at the1884 International Prime Meridian Conference in Washington, D.C. “What he did was wean us away from solar time - he developed the 24 time zones,” said Clark, “I thought an ironic monument to him would be to place 24 sundials across the park.”  If one looks closely at these sundials, the hours are labeled in both “Standard Time” and “Daylight Saving Time” with a small graph of the Equation of Time to translate local solar time into Atlantic Zone Time.

Read more about the phone apps, the 24 sundials and about Sir Sandford Fleming, inventor of Standard Time: