What's New Under The Sun

Thursday, 22 September 2022 20:41

The date is Sep. 22, 2022, the date of the fall equinox.  Although this is supposed to be the day of equal day and night, we know it's not exactly correct.  We measure daytime from sunrise to sunset, measured as the first and last light from the sun peaking over the horizon.  When we include sunrise and sunset plus atmospheric refration, at mid latitudes daylight wins by about 10...

Saturday, 27 August 2022 19:06

 Smithsonian Collection - Pocket sundial by Bourgaud of Nantes, 1660–1675. (MA.325565) From the National Museum of American History is an article about "How did a French pocket sundial end up buried in a field in Indiana?" published 20 July 2022 by Kidwell & Schechner.   It started in 1860 when Dr. Elisha Cannon, while plowing a field in Indiana, came...

Tuesday, 23 August 2022 14:17

The 2022 Sawyer Dialing Prize went to Frans Maes "for his creation of an introductory course on dialing, built on the idea of supervised self-study; for his successful multi-year running of that course in Europe; and for his inspiration of NASS’ development of a North American version.” Fred presented Frans with an award certification, the traditional cash prize of $250 and a custom made...

Tuesday, 09 August 2022 21:32

What makes a sundial?  Practically anything.  Sasch Stephens discusses how he became interested in dialing.  Since then he has turned many objects into solar time devices.  It takes some creative thinking to invision how a common object can become a working sundial.  One of the most recent projects turned a 54 x 28 foot south side of a building it into a giant sundial...

Sunday, 12 June 2022 22:00

Dr. Jeremy Robinson, (Naval Research Laboratory, Electronics Science and Technology Division) combined efforts with his father-in-law, Prof. Woodruff Sullivan (Univ. of Washington Dept. of Astronomy) to construct the World's Smallest Sundial. The competition was sponsored by Cadrans Solaires pour Tous and their record is being entered into the Guiness Book of World...

Saturday, 28 May 2022 17:28

Perhaps the smallest sundial goes to IBM with the printing of a sundial in a corner of a computer chip.  However it lacked a gnomon and could not really tell the time.  However, Chen Fong-shean, a Taiwanese miniature craftsman, was challenged by the French astronomical society to beat the Guiness World Record for smallest sundial held by an Italian.  The Italian dial created in...

Wednesday, 25 May 2022 14:42

NASS is saddened to report the passing of one of the UK’s pre-eminent sundial designer, Christopher St. J H Daniel who died on May 17, 2022. His works are to be found all over the UK, ranging from private commissions to major public works and to restorations and reconstruction of old and damaged sundials. After a 13-year career at sea, Christopher Daniel joined the staff of the National...

Thursday, 05 May 2022 15:48

Hochshule KaiserLautern Observatory.  HSKL Photo When is an astronomical observatory not an observatory? When it's playing the roll of R2-D2.  According to Atlas Obscura, "A university in Germany [Hochschule KaisersLautern, University of Applied Scieces Kaiserslautern at the Zweibrücken campus] has transformed its hilltop observatory into the charming likeness...

Friday, 29 April 2022 16:12

NASS is saddened to report that longtime member Harold Brandmaier died on April 11, 2022.  Throughout his long life, besides his ever-present sundials, Hal enjoyed stained glass, ship models, photography, travel, folk dance, and playing the hammered dulcimer and hand drums – always in company with his beloved wife Ginny.  Hal had been a member since NASS founding and stepped in to help...

Friday, 22 April 2022 14:45

On April 2, 2022 the Perseverance Martian rover's Mastcam-Z camera looked sunward and took a video of the eclipse of the sun by the "potato-shaped" moon Phobos.  According the NASA Mars Exploration Program site, "It’s the most zoomed-in, highest-frame-rate observation of a Phobos solar eclipse ever taken from the Martian surface."  NASA reports that "Several Mars rovers have observed...

Saturday, 26 February 2022 17:52

The 27th annual meeting of the North American Sundial Society was held at the Holiday Inn – Vanderbilt in Nashville from 11-14 August.  The Thursday night social included meeting old friends, exchanging stories about sundials, and for a lucky dozen-plus attendees, receiving sundial books and related door prizes.  One of the highlights of Friday’s sundial tour was seeing the symbolic...

Thursday, 17 February 2022 20:35

According to NewAtlas.com (https://newatlas.com/architecture/sun-tower-open/), construction of the Sun Tower exhibition building and outdoor theater is underway in the Chinese city of Yantai. The tower is being constructed by a French firm, Ducks Sceno and the engineering firm Arup, raising to 50m (164 ft) gracefully into the sky.  The tower symbolizes the historic watch towers of...

Foster1638ArtofDialingSamuel Foster. THE ART OF DIALLING; BY A NEW, EASIE, AND MOST SPEEDY WAY.

"SHEWING, HOW TO DESCRIBE THE Houre-lines upon all sorts of Plaines, Howsoever, or in what Latitude so-ever Scituated; As also, To find the Suns Azimuth, whereby the sight of any Plaine is examined. Performed by a Quadrant, fitted with lines necessary to the purpose. Invented and Published by SAMVEL FOSTER, Professor of Astronomie in Gresham Colledge LONDON, Printed by John Dawson for Francis Eglesfield, and are to be sold at the signe of the Marigold in Pauls Church-yard. 1638." (50 pages, 1.9 MB)

Also, in non-facsimile form, NASS presents with a paragraph-by-paragraph collation with the earlier edition [above] is the second edition of Samuel Foster's THE ART OF DIALLING. This edition provides "several Additions and Variations of the Authors, deduced from his own Manuscript. With a SUPPLEMENT, Performing all the Instrumental Work of the Quadrant, by Calculation. By help of the Canons of Sines and Tangents, which of all ways is the most Exact. By WILLIAM LEYBOURN Philomath. LONDON, Printed by J.R. for Francis Eglesfield at the Marygold in St. Pauls Churchyard. 1675." (60 pages, 0.8 MB)

This can be ordered from LuLu Books: Foster: Art of Dialling (1638)

The first edition of this book is probably the only one of Foster’s works that he lived to see published. The second (and third) edition appeared 37 years later when William Leybourn published a version based on Foster’s manuscript notes for a revision.

This book is the first to introduce the use of dialing scales in the layout of dials; it also includes a little known circular instrument that Foster invented as a precursor to the circular nomograms of the twentieth century. The technique Foster uses to draw dials on arbitrary planes amounts to treating every dial not as a horizontal at a different location, but as an inclining direct east/west dial at a different location. Each edition focuses on a quadrant Foster designed specifically to aid the dialist. It is interesting to note that the quadrant of the 1675 edition is significantly different from the earlier version; it uses half as many lines but accomplishes the same tasks.

The second edition concludes with an addendum by Leybourn, showing how all the work of the book can be accomplished by direct calculation. "READER, Here is presented to thy view a short and plain Treatise; it was written for mine own use, it may become thine if thou like it; The subject indeed is old; but the manner of the Work is all new. If any be delighted with recreation of this nature, and yet have not much time to spend, they are here fitted, the Instrument will dispatch presently. If they fear to lose themselves in a wilderness of lines, or to out-run the limits of a Plain, by infinite excursions (two inconveniences unto which the common wayes are subject) they are here acquitted of both, having nothing to draw but the Dial it self, contracted within a limited equicrural triangle. If want of skill in the Mathematicks should deterr any from this subject, let them know, that here is little or none at all required, but what the most ignorant may attain. If others shall think the Canons more exact, so do I, but not so easie to be understood, not so ready for use, not so speedy in performance, nor so well fitting all sorts of men: and withall an Instrument in part must be used, this will do all, and is accurate enough. If it must needs be disliked, let a better be shewed, and I will dislike it too; It is new, plain, brief, exact, of quick dispatch. Accept it, and use it, till I present thee with some other thing, which will be shortly."