The North American Sundial Society held their annual sundial conference in Pittsburgh, a four day affair for gnomonists to convene and share their enthusiasm for all things sundials. This conference was special as the NASS celebrated the society's 25th anniversary. Starting in 1993 with only a handful of dialing enthusiasts, the society has grown to over 250 members extending from North America to all parts of the globe. For this conference NASS members convened from around the world representing countries of Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Australia. Scheduled to attend but intervened by last minute issues preventing their attendance were dialists from Mexico and Italy. All came with one objective - to share their enthusiasm for sundials.
On Thursday evening Aug 16th the dialists gathered at the Garden Hilton in downtown Pittsburgh to participate in drawings for assorted door prizes including sundials and books on dialing. On Friday all boarded a charter bus to view the sundials of Pittsburgh, taking a tour that included a large steel equatorial designed and built by Anthony Vitale, a multi-faced dial at Old Economy Village dating to 1825, and a dial commemorating the battle at Bushy Run in 1793 that was found at the site of the Fort Pitt Block House during its 1894 restoration by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution who still own and preserve the structure and the sundial. The tour included the dial at Frick Fine Arts Museum (near the geenhouse), the Riverfron Park Sewickley analemmatic (human) sundial, and the large octagonal horizontal sundial at Homewood Cemetery.
On Saturday and Sunday attendees listed to presentations on ring dials (with a diverson into the history of solving cubic equations), helical sundials (and 3D printing), viking sunstones (with a description of the birefracting material calcite), lunar sundials (Sciathericum Seleniacum), van Schooten and Dialing Scales (published in 1657), Time for Rita's (a vertical declining dial designed for an ice cream store in Elizabethtown, PA), and zenith days below the Tropic of Capricorn (and a year-long photograph of the analemma over the El Cerrito pyramid in Querétaro, Mexico),and much, much more. On Saturday evening the Sawyer Dialing Prize was awarded this year to Gianpiero Casalegno from Italy for his achievements in harnessing modern ditital technology to the benefit of tradional dialists around the world. The prize includes an elegant Spectra Sundial by Artisan Industrials (Jim Tallman) and a cash award. Gian has chosen to given the cash award as a donation to the Bellingham Mural Project lead by Sasch Stephens. The dial will be dedicated on the coming equinox, Sept. 22.
NASS members enjoyed this year's conference and are now planning for next year's convening, tentatively to be held in Denver, Colorado.
The Van Vleck Observatory has received a new sundial. In the Wesleyan news letter article by Olivia Drake who interviewed provost Joyce Jacobsen who said, "Campus doesn’t have enough outside art. A sundial is a perfect piece because it’s not only aesthetically pleasing but it’s functional too.” (https://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2018/07/17/sundial-sculpture-installed-on-van-vleck-observatory/)
The 6 x 6 foot Muntz metal bronze sundial with stainless steel reinforcing weighing 650 pounds was carefully installed on the southern face of the 20-inch Clark Refractor dome on Foss Hill, Middletown, CT. The Alvan Clark telescope now open for public viewing was installed in July, 1922. In 1971 the Van Vleck observatory acquired the 24-inch Perkin reflector, housed in a separate dome near the west end of the old observatory building. (http://www.wesleyan.edu/astro/van-vleck/history.html)
The July 16th, almost exactly 96 years since the installation of the Clark telescope, the dome was graced by a sundial. Installation was supervised by the designer and creator, Robert Adzema (standing on the platform). He visited the campus multiple times with paper and wooden models seeking the right esthetic design. The final dial design is a true south declining sundial (notice the equinox line is parallel to the ground) but the hour lines are corrected for the longitude 72° 39.5585' W such that mean noon occurs 9m 22s after local mean noon. Hence a slight counter-clockwise twist to the hour lines (the 6am hour line is slightly below the horizontal). The shadow of the gnomon's tip traces the solstices and equinox. "I wanted the design to look timeless and in keeping with the classical nature of the building,” said Adzema. In Drake's article Adzema further commented on the patina of the bronze dial, saying, "I chose this green because it is the natural color bronze would oxidize over time. It is also a shade that looks great against the color of the observatory’s brownstone walls...The biggest difficulty was achieving the patina, which had to be applied by heating the surface of the dial and applying various chemicals and acids.”https://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2018/07/17/sundial-sculpture-installed-on-van-vleck-observatory/
The Frederick Douglass home, also know as Cedar Hill, is located at 1411 W Street, SE in Anacostia. After Douglass' death in 1895, his widow Helen Pitts Douglass (a suffragist and abolitionist) founded the Frederick Douglass Memorial and Historical Association in 1900. In 1916, the National Association of Colored Women's Clubs joined with the association and jointly owned the house until 1962.
One of the Colored Women's Clubs, the Married Women's Culture Club of Pittsburgh, contributed a sundial to the Douglass House in 1922 when it was opened as a national museum. The sundial contains a challenging motto: "My face marks the sunny hours. What can you say of yours?"
According to an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette by Mark Holan (http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2018/07/22/Marking-time-with-Frederick-Douglass/stories/201807220003) "The reasons that the Married Women’s Culture Club chose a sundial to donate to Cedar Hill are unknown. Having 'secured the dial and prior to sending it east for installation at the grounds,' the club held a July 9, 1922, dedication ceremony at Pittsburgh’s Euclid Avenue A.M.E. Church,' according to The Pittsburgh Press.... Just three Augusts after the Cedar Hill ceremony, more than 30,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue. Even in the darkest of times, however, the Pittsburgh women’s gift of that sundial at Cedar Hill has marked the sunny hours."
You can read more about the history of the Douglass House and see a photo of the 1922 sundial at http://allenbrowne.blogspot.com/2012/09/cedar-hill.html The photo taken by Allen Browne shows the dial has survived the years well, except that someone has reinstalled the gnomon backwards.
On June 6th 2018, an interest memorial sundial was donated to the Clifford A. Phaneuf Environmental Center at Forest Park, MA just off U.S. 91 and a stone's throw from the Connecticut River. According to Mass Live (https://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2018/06/new_sundial_at_forest_park_env.html), "During the public ceremony, the sculpted sundial was donated by the family of retired Hampden County Housing Court Judge Edward C. Peck Jr. and dedicated in memory of Peck's late wife, Ruth Mahoney Peck." The Peck family commissioned sculptor James Kitchen who created a run-patina steel sundial with the base of an old mill circular saw blade and setting a pipe wrench and ice skate blade welded together as gnomon. According to Burt Freedman, a retired teacher of the Environmental Center for Our Schools at Forest Park, the dial provides references to the industrial and agricultural history of Springfield and Forest Park.
The Hour Lines are short vanes of steel raised about 1" above the circular saw blade. A slight dome extends from the hour line circle to the center where the sundial gnomon sets. Although the 6am-6pm line meets the base of the gnomon, the fact that the gnomon is raised 2 or more inches above the saw blade, sets the virtual foot of the gnomon far back of the 6-6 line. Thus, although the sundial is esthetically beautiful and represents history of the area, perhaps it tells time with considerably more error than expected from the Equation of Time. [No longitude correction is provided, resulting in nearly 10 minutes of constant error.]
In this age of smartphones and digital wrist watches, the Barnwell Sundial in front of the Court House in Barnwell, South Carolina continues to tell accurate time. As reported by the television stations WRDW and WAGT, "It was put up in 1858 after it was given to the county by state senator Joseph D. Allen. The sundial keeps very accurate standard time, even though that wasn't established until 1884. [Telling standard time is possible through Equation of Time corrections listed on the face of the dial.] The courthouse that is located near it burnt down in 1865, but the sundial stood tall. In 1918, still in it's original location, a concrete curbing was built around the sundial to protect it from traffic. Over the years, it was restored and fixed up."
See the video of Phill Huggins tell about how he got the opportunity to restore the sundial.
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In a sunny corner of Ken & Molly Cooper's garden, located at their home in the Del Webb community of Manteca, CA, is an 8x12 foot horizontal sundial. The hours lines are delineated by alternating light tan and red stone pebbles. The hours themselves are squares of marble with Roman numerals from 6am to 6pm. The 4 foot gnomon is about six inches wide, made of a concrete core and flanked with marble. The hour lines are correctly laid out for a thick gnomon.
Surrounding the dial is a low brick wall decorated with lizards and butterflies. According to Rose Alban Risso, correspondent for the Manteca Bulletin, "The central focus [of the garden], a huge sundial that took him hundreds of hours to make, is the realization of a childhood dream and fascination with astronomy. The two concrete spheres here were hand painted by the retired PG&E employee. One is designated as the night sky and the other represents daytime. An armillary time piece occupies another corner of the sundial..."
Read more about the Cooper's garden and sundial at:
With the Masters Tournament playing in Augusta and the return of Tiger Woods, many golf enthusiasts think back to other great players. One of the greatest was Bobby Jones. John Steinbreder writes about a sundial in his honor, "Another reminder of Jones here [at the Augusta National Golf Club] is a small bronze statue just 18 1/2 inches in height that is part of a working sundial outside the Member Golf Shop and just across from the first tee. The effigy boasts a rich, brown patina and etched across the lower part of the sundial are the words: 'Slow Back, Time Right.'
Back in the 60's Pete Pascale found the statue and dial in a scrap metal dumping ground in Erie, Pensylvannia. After cleaning and repairing the statue, he gave it to Rick and Hank DeDionisio who ran Ricardo's Restaurant in Erie. The brothers were avid golfers and in turn presented the figure and dial to their Downing Golf Club. As Steinbreder writes,"...the brothers and club hit upon the idea of offering the statue to Augusta National, because of their admiration of Jones. They asked John May, a senior editor at Golf Digest, to act as an intermediary, and the journalist contacted Roberts in a letter dated May 18, 1972. Some time later, the Sundial took its place outside the Member Golf Shop."
Read about August National and the Sundial at: http://www.goerie.com/sports/20180406/erie-residents-helped-iconic-sundial-reach-augusta-national
It is believed that Edwin E. Codman, the English artist crafted the piece in the 1930s, using Jones as the model for the figure. Codman spent the early part of his life in England working at the Gorham foundry, creating small exquisite bronze sculptures. In 1931 he moved to Dorset, Vermont where he and his wife lived quietly until his death in 1955. Looking at history, Bobby Jones won fame between 1923 to 1930, culminating with the Grand Slam that included the British Amateur and British Open. It is very plausible that Codman made the sculpture and sundial in 1930 to recognize the fame of this retiring golfer.
The real story behind the Bobby Jones sundial is ultimately instructive for the world of golf: In Augusta, it doesn't tell correct time, even solar time. If Codman made the sundial in the UK, it explains the angle of the golf club shaft, closer to the latitude angle of London at 51 degrees rather than 42 (Erie, PA) and certainly not 36 degrees (Augusta, GA). This may be confirmed by the face of the dial, where the hours span from 4am to 8pm, allowing for the variation of sunlight in England, not Georgia.
So the joke is on all those golfers who look to the Bobby Jones sundial, as the only time telling device on the course: it has never told correct time (except for noon) in Augusta and never will. It would be fun to get a rubbing of the dial face to prove it runs on London time.