Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

nass_news_2012_oct_SundialToMarsBill Nye, The Science Guy gives a 7 minute TED-ED talk describing the excitement of creating sundials on Mars.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas of worth.  Conferences are held each year with more than 50 guest speakers to motivate the audience on many different fields and now through YouTube, you can share the excitement of sundialing.

Bill describes his father’s imprisonment during World War II and, as family tradition tells it, used a shovel dug into the ground to tell both time and season.  Upon release after 44 months, “My father became fascinated with sundials, … so he created the well known sand dial which you take to the beach so that you don't get sand in your watch ... oh, everyone needs one believe me ...”

“He wrote articles for the Washington DC area newspapers and he eventually wrote a book about sundials and that's when he was given a lifetime membership in the North American Sundial Society…”

Bill Nye inherited his father's fascination with sundials. At Cornell University Bill saw the design of the Photometric Calibration Target designed for the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity.  “We’ve got to turn the Photometric Calibration Target into a sundial … [and] there are now two sundials on Mars.” An addendum to the video recognizes that there are now three with the landing of the Curiosity rover.

Want to know what the Martian analemma looks like compared to that of the earth?  Or how sundial people party? (“It’s nuts”).  Or what is “Sundial Obsessive Disorder”?  See the video and find out!

And as part of the excitement of sending sundials to Mars, Bill describes the effort to have people all over the earth create sundials of a standard design (using a ping pong ball as the nodus of the gnomon).  With Curiosity’s landing, again the “Two Worlds – One Sun” sundial and webcam project is underway.  Visit the Planetary Society for detailed instructions in making the sundial at: