Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Features

This Sundials for Starters appeared in The Compendium in December, 2005

by Robert Kellogg, Ph.D.

Dial and Gnomon Set to Correct Site Latitude of 38 Degrees

This is the start of a regular column to review the basics of Sundials.  Of course NASS provides an introductory CD disk on sundials and there is always the classic reference Sundials, Their Theory and Construction by A.E. Waugh.

For this article, let’s consider some basics in buying a sundial for the garden.  Or perhpas you want to make one.  There are magazine catalogs and websites that offer “fine English dials”.  But are they for you?  Consider the latitude of an English dial.  London is at about 51º north latitude, while most of the populated area of North America is below 45º.  Take a look at the gnomon of your potential purchase. The gnomon should be approximately the same angle as you latitude.  Here we’ll illustrate a dial (Figure 1) from the Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland with latitude of approximately 38º.

Attachments:
Download this file (SerlesRuler.jpg)Serle's Ruler[Ruler to Measure or Make a Sundial]37 kB

Read more: Sundial Latitude

Along with her husband, Mrs. Webster spent much of her life and fortune combing auction catalogs and antiquarian shops to create a collection of early scientific instruments so renowned, it is considered in the same company as the Museum of the History of Science at Oxford University and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, according to Bolt, Adler planetarium vice president for collections.  The Websters are primarily responsible for the world-class collection of scientific instruments at the Adler.

http://www.suntimes.com/news/obituaries/5722751-418/marjorie-kelly-webster-95-collected-scientific-instruments.html

NASS is supporting the Adler to catalog their sundial collection enhanced over the years by Marjorie Kelly and her husband.

NASS_2013_Andre_BouchardAndré Bouchard received the 2013 Sawyer Dialing prize at the Boston NASS Conference “In recognition of two decades of promoting, preserving, extending and  exemplifying the pairimoine of Québecois of dialing and gnomonics.”

During the first 15 years of the CCSQ (la Commission des Cadrans solaires du Québec) André made numerous presentations on gnomonics, adopting objective and descriptive ways in order to highlight the specific elements of particular dials and dialist styles.  Now as editor of The Gnomonist / Le Gnomoniste, André is rediscovering the fundamentals of philosophy through sundials, showing that they merge both in time, place, casting symbolic meaning and beauty within their surrounding.  André illustrated this by discussing the design of the 2008 sundial on the shore of the St. Laurence River at Point aux Outardes Park near Baie-Comeau, where the polar gnomon and its supports simulate bull rushes, augmented by a flight of geese.

Fred Sawyer presented André with an award certificate, the traditional cash prize of $200 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.

nass_news_2010_july_GinoSchiavoneGino Schiavone: After studying Liberal Arts at Loyola University and Fine Arts at Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles I began a career of what I called “making wonderful things.” Some thirty years ago I happened upon some books about sundials at a library. This happy accident changed my life. These books introduced me to the wide range of sundials and methods for their design. I was enthralled and inspired; I was in love. I decided to make fine sundials and embarked on a new course of study.

 

Read more: Biography of Gino Schiavone

NASS_2012_Frank_KingThe 2012 Sawyer Dialing Prize was awarded to Frank King at the annual NASS Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. 

The award is given “In recognition of his innovative mathematical and astronomical solutions to problems encountered in the modern design of notable sundials.”  Dr. King is Council Chairman of the British Sundial Society, Senior Lecturer of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of Churchill College where he is Chairman of the Churchill Archives Committee and Praelector.  At Cambridge he also holds the responsibility of the University Bellringer, “one of the University’s most ancient and unusual posts” with the job of keeping the University Clock telling correct time.

He has designed many sundials including the vertical dial with Italian and Babylonian hours for Selwyn College, Cambridge (a new dial for Old Court), the Pembroke College vertical sundial, the noon mark wall analemma at 10 Paternoster Square in London, the unusual near-horizontal gnomon sundial as a memorial dial for Margaret Stanier, the analemmatic dial for Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee (2002) and the circular analemmatic dial for the MetroTransit Authority (Metropolitana) of Naples.

Frank was presented with a cash prize of $200 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.

http://www.artisanindustrials.com/world-of-sundials/spectra-sundial-cambridge-cambridgeshire-england.html

This Sundials for Starters appeared in The Compendium in March, 2006

by Robert L. Kellogg, Ph.D

I usually get up at 7am (ante meridian), but unlike ancient farmers, the time of rise has almost nothing to do with sunrise. One June 21st, and just west of Washington D.C. my sunrise occurs at 5:43 am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). That would be 4:43 am Eastern Standard Time (EST) if we left our clocks alone. I’m almost due west of Washington D.C. and the Ellipse in front of the White House. Interestinglyu, my sunrise will occur about 44 seconds after sunlight rises on the White House.  How does this relate to longitude?

Read more: A Matter of Longitude

NASS_2011_SondereggerThis year's Sawyer Dialing Prize awarded at the 2011 NASS Conference in Seattle Washington was given to Helmut Sonderegger, "In recognition of his ongoing development and support of the dialing software Sonne, and his many years of leadership in his national society." His acceptance talk was on one of the first Copernican followers, Rheticus.

 For many years Helmut Sonderegger has been active in the German Sundial Association and was chairman of a team of dialist to produce the 3rd Editiion of the Austrian Sundial Catalogue.  His most famous free sundial software, „Sonne“ calculates about 20 different sundial types and his program „Alemma“ is devoted to the calculation of analemmatic sundials.  The software is available at his website, www.helson.at.  He endeavors to help people who make sundials through his software and through articles in the NASS Compendium and the German Rundschreiben, and for local groups.

Helmut was presented with a cash prize of $200 and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials.

http://www.artisanindustrials.com/world-of-sundials/spectra-sundial-feldkirch-austria.html

Founding Fathers - Washington Dial at Mt. Vernon, VA

In August, 2014, the North American Sundial Society had a terrific conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, discussing sundial topics from the sundials of Our Founding Fathers where Fred Sawyer talked about the sundials and stories of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. 

Greek Dial from Ai Khanum

Another highlight was Jack Aubert's talk on the mysteries of an ancient Greek sundial found at Ai Khanum in the northern of Afghanistan and computing the hour lines.  Who built this dial more than 2000 years ago and what kind of mathematics did they use?

Peggy Gunnerson described the evolution of a modern sundial parallelpipeds sculpture, creating an artistic and unusal east-west sundial.  And Stephen Lueking presented a series of modern sundial designs for DePaul University.  These were just some of the presentations.  Subscribe to the digital edition of The Compendium from NASS and receive them all.  The annual Sawyer Dialing Prize went to Robert Kellogg for NASS outreach and the invention of a digital sundial.  Read more about the presentations and the tour of Indianapolis by downloading the attachment below.

Peggy Gunnerson Parallelpiped Dial
Stephen Luecking - Dial Design for DePaul University

Hosting 46 people, the conference was coordinated by George and Betsy Wilson and Mark an Phyllis Montgomery.  During the Friday Sundial tour NASS was welcomed by Eagle Elementary School, the senior high ability class and their teachers.  All gathered in the school's courtyard to show a large horizontal sundial, dedicated as a memorial to a former teacher, Linda Eads.

Attachments:
Download this file (2014_Conference_Indianapolis_IN.pdf)2014 Conference Indianapolis IN[ ]1138 kB

Subcategories

  • Sundials for Starters
    Article Count:
    6
  • Conferences
    Article Count:
    23
  • Sawyer Dialing Prize
    Fred Sawyer, in cooperation with the North American Sundial Society, established a continuing yearly award, the Sawyer Dialing Prize to be presented by NASS to an individual for accomplishments in or contributions to dialing and the dialing community.
    Article Count:
    19
  • Terwilliger Sundials
    In these pages is the famous tub sundial created by Robert Terwilliger using his laser trigon to lay out hour lines on a very irregular surface to create a working sundial.
    Article Count:
    1
  • Biographies

    Who are today's sundial artisans?  Here are several bioghraphies of several artisans that show the unique combination of talents in art, engineering, and mathematics.

    Article Count:
    6