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...

Clerke1687SpotDialGilbert Clerke. THE SPOT-DIAL, Very useful to shew the Hour within the House.

"Together with Directions how to find a true Meridian, the Azymuth and Declination; and how to draw a Dial upon a Staff, upon the Cieling, upon any Pillar or Globe. Never Before Published. By Gilbert Clerke. London, Printed by J.M. for Walter Kettilby at the Bishop's-Head in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1687."    (30 pages, 1.3 MB)

Clerke (1626-1697?) gave private lessons in the mathematical arts and produced custom-made sundials. In 1682 he published Oughtredus explicatus, an edition of William Oughtred’s famous 1647 algebra textbook Clavis Mathematica. Clerke added a section on dialling, in which he described his invention of the spot-dial. Some years later, he was prevailed upon to write this brief English treatment of the dial. “I did not think to have written any more of Dialling, having delivered my Mind sufficiently at the End of my Oughtredus Explicatus; but being desired by a Neighbour Gentleman to make a fuller Description of the Spot-Dial, which I mention there…, I have now undertaken it, according to that Gentleman’s Desire, having had much Experience (since that writing was extant) both of the best wayes of drawing the Dial, and of the best Materials, and so much as I believe, that little will be added by him, that comes after, to what I shall here say. The Use of this Dial is to see the Hour by the Rays of the Sun passing through a Hole, and terminated in a Glass set in a Frame within the House against the Window, the Ground of it is the same with that of the Sun’s Light passing through a Hole in the Window, and intercepted by a String, and of the Ceiling-Dial, where the Reflecting-Glass is supposed to be a Point in the Style.”

This can be ordered from LuLu Books: Clerke: The Spot-Dial(1687)