What's New Under The Sun

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 North American Sundial Society will hold its 27th annual conference in Nashville from Aug 11-14, 2022. Come to the Home of the Grand Ole Opry.  Our hotel is next to Vanderbilt University and close to downtown, with the Country Music Hall of Fame, National Museum of African American Music, and Frist Art Museum.  Don't forget lower Broadway, the center of Nashville's most famous...

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...

Sunday, 12 December 2021 01:17

John Krieger, a former science teacher, is a strong supporter of STEM in the classroom and science in the real world. Bollards at Laguna Nigel in southern California might offer the opportunity to teach a bit of astronomy.  John says, "I don’t mean to imply that every concrete curb stop should be turned into an astronomical instrument. But why can’t we have more of these things around...

Saturday, 04 December 2021 17:52

Frans Maes of the Netherland Sundial Society writes: "We deeply regret to inform you that Hans de Rijk, founding member in 1978 and honorary member of the Netherlands' Sundial Society, passed away on November 23, at the age of 95. He served in the Board of the Society for many years and wrote some 150 articles in its Bulletin. Among these were important contributions, such as a latitude...

Tuesday, 28 September 2021 21:55

Sundials have always been part of gardens, as witnessed by Alice Morse Earle's book Sun Dials and Roses of Yesterday written 120 years ago. Her book title expanded on the cover with the subtitile "Garden Delights Which are Here Displayed in Very Truth and are Moreover Regarded as Emblems." Thomas Christopher, a volunteer at the Berkshire Botanical Garden is author of a number of books on...

Friday, 17 September 2021 17:09

Seattle, WA wants to call itself the sundial capital of the world, but it runs a pale second to Birkenau, Germany. This small village in the south of Germany with about 10,000 inhabitants holds the record as the village with the highest density of sundials in the world. (https://www.sonnenuhren-birkenau.de/service-269/news/news-details/world-record-for-the-village-of-sundials.html). You can find...

Monday, 16 August 2021 16:45

The North American Sundial Society, after by-passing the 2020 Conference due to Covid restrictions, held the 26th annual meeting from August 5th - 8th at the Hilton Garden Inn, Center City, Philadelphia. The venue was similar to past conferences: Thursday night social and door prizes for attendees, Friday a bus tour of 11 sundials in the Philadelphia area, Saturday sundial presentations and...

Monday, 16 August 2021 16:38

This year's Sawyer Dialing Prize went to Dr. Sara Schechner “for her career in education and conservation of our dialing heritage, and in particular for her authorship of Time of Our Lives – Sundials of the Adler Planetarium”. Dr. Schechner is a historian of science, and in particular, of astronomical instruments. She is the David P. Wheatland Curator of the Collection of Historical Scientific...

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."