Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

2004_GottesmanDialAt Tenafly, New Jersey NASS conferees once again to discuss sundials and sundial making.  Larry McDavid began the conference with “Sundials: Prehistory to the Digital Age” intended as an instructional power point that can be given to a wide spectrum of adult audiences.  A companion presentation, “Beauty in Dialing” is also released for educational use.  Bob Kellogg discussed construction and alignment of the Freedom High School 9-11 memorial Dial.  Bob Terwilliger “in a blaze of entertaining wizardry” described Bion’s 17th and 18th century techniques for dial construction usin his laser trigon “sciatorium.”  Bob showed how his precision instrument that can “draw a sundial on a Buick” also can design a dial on his garden hot-tub.  Steve Luecking demonstrated programs for deriving hour lines and day lines from shadow planes and other CAD techniques.  Plus many more interesting presentations by Bill Gottesman, Robert Adzema, Martin Jenkins, John Carmaichael, and Sara Schechner.


Download this file (2004_NASSConference_Tenafly.pdf)2004_NASSConference_Tenafly.pdf[ ]1469 kB

2003_BanffConferenceCenterThirty Nine NASS members met in the beauty of the Canadian Rockies at the Banff Conference Center.  Talks began with Roger Bailey explaining his approach to “Designing a Sundial from Scratch” using basic trigonometric formulas.  Then Fred Sawyer described the 19th century French engineer Charles-Nicolas Peaucellier who published a type of dial using only straight lines.  Among other presenters was Tom Kreyche with “Projections of the Sphere for Universal Astrolabes.  The center of attention came when Paul Nibley presented a variety of sundials with alarms.  Everyone was delighted to watch his noonday cannon remind us of the sun on the meridian.  Also demonstrated was a butterfly sun alarm that spread its wings with a chime, powered by solar cells.  Tony Moss, UK dialist, discussed his efforts toward working with stainless steel. Roger Bailey discussed astro-archeology from the Stone Age the the Mayans and the Renaissance.  Later, Dr. Gordon Freeman, Albertan scholar, presented his research on the Majorville Medicine Wheel. These are only some of the fine papers presented.

Download this file (2003_NASSConference_Banff.pdf)2003_NASSConference_Banff.pdf[ ]479 kB

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).

Download this file (2002_NASSConference_Tucson02.pdf)2002_NASSConference_Tucson02.pdf[ ]3268 kB

2001_ParcRegionaldeLongueuilFaced with the turmoil of September 11th, many NASS members were unable to attend the conference. André Bochard began by giving description of sundials in the Stewart Museum collection, visited by the conferees the following day. Fred Sawyer described the beginning of the Shadow Catcher series, a set of digital reproductions of historical dialing books. Then, a number of interesting sundials were described, including the Sunmaster universal ring dial, an update on digital sundials, and a new type of horizontal dial from Fred Sawyer.  André Bochard gave the conferees information on the formation and operation of Commission des Cadrans Solaire de Québec, the society devoted to French Canadian sundialing.  Bill Gottesman spoke about his “Mathematical Expedition to the North Pole”, illustrating the concepts by juggling a bowling ball. The sundial tour included the Steward Museum and outdoor equatorials seen on a sunny day at the Parc régional de Longueuil and the marina de Boucherville. 

See these dials and much more in the PDF download!

Download this file (2001_NASSConference_Montreal.PDF)2001_NASSConference_Montreal.PDF[ ]9066 kB

2000_Sunstone_SanFranciscoRon Anthony, Carl Trost and Mark Gingrich organized the 2000 NASS conference in San Francisco.  A wide variety of sundial papers were presented, including Carl Trost’s description of the 1913 opening of the Ingleside Terrace sundial with a 28-foot gnomon, Robert Kellogg’s description of the “Amazing Maize Maze” the largest “organic” sundial, and educational insights by Mac Oglesby and Paul Lapp who reminded the conferees that “Toves don’t do Trig”.  Download the PDF to read about the other sundial talks and discover the Azimeter and Sawyer Equant dials are all about.   The sundial tour included a visit to the Heliodon at the Energy Center of Pacific Gas & Electric Company, and a tour through San Francisco and Berkely to see a number of dials including the Entrada Court horizontal dial at Ingleside Terracethe large horizontal dial at Hunter’s Ridge and the Navigator’s Sundial on the back of a tortoise in Golden Gate Park, and the Sunstone Alignment stones at the Park and at Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley.

Download this file (2000_NASSConference_SanFrancisco.pdf)2000_NASSConference_SanFrancisco.pdf[ ]6559 kB

1999_LoomisChaffeeDial_WinsorThis year’s NASS conference was held in Hartford, CT with 50 attendees.  There were many presenters from sculptor and sundial designer Robert Adzema to Mike Shaw, one of four attendees from the UK.  There were many interesting dials on display, including Fritz Stumpges “Solar Flair” dial, Larry Bohlayer’s “Sun Vial, Bill Gottesman’s Spiral Sundial, Mac Oglesby’s shadow plane dial, Mayall’s Cube dial at CIGNA, Waugh’s pillar dial at University of Connecticut, and Judy Young’s “Sunwheel” stone alignment circle at University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  Tom Kreyche presented a paper describing his computer program to update and expand NASS’s Dialist’s Companion software while Sara Schechner discussed the interrelation of sundials, time and Christianity, drawing upon many European cathedrals that served as giant meridian sundials.  As with a number of previous conferences, it rained or was sunless for much of the Saturday sundial tour.

Download this file (1999_NASSConference_Hartford.pdf)1999_NASSConference_Hartford.pdf[ ]957 kB

1998_UnivWash_Sullivan_SeattleThe attached PDF file begins “For the second year in a row, the Sun shone brightly on the annual NASS conference,” even though it was held at the University of Washington in Seattle.  A large number of sundial related displays, outdoor demonstrations, and a local tour of Seattle area sundials provided “hands-on” experience for the conferees.  Woody Sullivan, conference host, described the “hands-on” experience of designing and building the large vertical dial on the Physics and Science building.  Len Berggren presented history of gnomonics in medieval Islam, pointing out that the time of afternoon prayer is defined in terms of gnomon shadow length.  The Seattle tour of sundials included the analemmatic sundial in Gasworks Park, dials at Billings Middle School, and the Webster Park Equatorial Sundial among many others.  See what you missed, and download the PDF for all the details.

Download this file (1998_NASSConference_Seattle.pdf)1998_NASSConference_Seattle.pdf[ ]2535 kB

1997_Equatorial_LincolnParkZoo_ChicagoAbout 45 members of NASS attended the third annual conference in the windy city of Chicago. The Adler Planetarium hosted the conference and provided a tour of their fine collection of astrolabes and sundials.   Of particular interest was the special sundial exhibit prepared by Sara Schechner Genuth for the conferees in the History of Astronomy Department. NASS sessions started with John Shephed describing his design of a vertical declining sundial 56 feet wide.  Warren Thom talked about sundial computer aided design using several popular programs.  Fred Sawyer took the mathematical side and presented a new sundial, described as “Ptolemaic Coordinate Sundials” which he invented in response to a British Sundial Society challenge.  Download the PDF for full details.

Download this file (1997_NASSConference_Chicago.pdf)1997_NASSConference_Chicago.pdf[ ]1450 kB