Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

2002_McMath_SolarTelescopeThis conference had a historical bent:  Conferee speakers received a replica of the “Fugio” cent, America’s first coin issued in 1787.  The coin was designed by Benjamin Franklin and shows a sundial with the motto “Fugio” meaning “Time flies”.  Len Breggren discussed the history of sundials to 200 BCE and the work of the Greek geometer Diocles, who described the earliest Greek sundial, a hemispherical mirror that indicated the hour of the day from burning a trace.  Fred Sawyer continued the historical view, discussing the overlap of Dialing and Cartography.  Other presentations discussed the Prime Vertical and construction of daylines. Bill Walton presented “Pinholes and Shadow Sharpening” and Bill Gottesman presented a method for measuring wall declination using a carpenter’s square.  John Carmichael discussed how one might turn the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope into a sundial; Saturday’s sundial tour started at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, home of the world’s largest collection of optical telescopes (in 2002).

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