Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Features

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

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

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

2013_CHSI_PocketSundial
[CHSI - Harvard Collection]

Appropriate to NASS’ visit, Harvard had just recently completed a new major exhibit entitled “Time and Time Again” offering conference members a unique view on the changes in time keeping and the social impact of timekeeping technology.  On Friday afternoon, NASS members followed the Time Trails through the Harvard campus, locating historical sundials “in the wild” and timepieces in the Semitic, Peabody, and Natural History Museums.

The day was finished by two presentations “Trading in Time: European Pocket Sundials Designed for Colonial Use in American Territories by Sara Schechner and “Portable Sundials in Austrian Museums” by Ilse Fabian.

During Saturday a plethora of sundial talks were presented by NASS members, including “Counting the Sunny Hours” by Roger Bailey to a new “Wandering Gnomon Sundial Designn” by Fred Sawyer.  Bob Kellogg presented the making of an animation illustrating the Ibn al-Shatir sundial proposed for Observatory Park in Virginia for the Analemma Society.  One of the most color presentations was Art Paque’s update on Solargraphy, illustrating the technique of forming daily images of the sun a photographic paper that at the last is digitally scanned and preserved.

Attachments:
Download this file (2013_Conference_BostonCambridge_MA.pdf)2013 Conference BostonCambridge_MA[2013 NASS Annual Conference]822 kB

Read more: 2013 Conference - Boston/Cambridge

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

NASS_2010_GottesmanThe 2010 Sawyer Dialing Prize goes to William L. Gottesman of Burlington, Vermont, "In recognition of his committment to innovation and high precision design in sundials which combine tradition with 21st century advances."  Bill is designer of the Renaissance Sundial, a spiral sundial that uses curved mirrors to show the time to within 30 seconds.  His dial is available at http://www.precisionsundials.com

Bill collaborated with Kate Pond to design the Equatorial Band Sundial, dedicated during the 2010 NASS conference at Champlain College with the title "Come Light, Visit Me."  On a smaller scale, but with no less precision, Bill worked with Fred Sawyer to realize the Sawyer Equant Sundial that will show both solar and clock time.  To "advertise" the 2010 NASS conference, Bill even designed the back end of his car as a sundial, using the radio antenna as a gnomon.

As in past years, Bill was presented with $200 to fund a sundial project of his choice and a custom made Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials:

http://www.artisanindustrials.com/world-of-sundials/spectra-sundial-burlington-3.html

 

nass_news_2012_aug_nass_1The North American Sundial Society held its 2012 conference in Asheville NC, August 16-19.  Alice Io Oglesby and Hugh Munro, local hosts and sundial enthusiasts, took NASS members on a sundial tour through Asheville and the rolling hills of western North Carolina to see the vertical dials at Sunny Point Café and the analemmatic dial of the “kitchen garden” at the Biltmore Estate.  In Burnsville, NASS members saw the Quilt Block Sundial, one of over 200 colourful quilt block paintings along the North Carolina Quilt Block Trail. NASS was welcomed by the Mayor of Burnsville and had the Quilt Block sundial explained by Bob Hampton, astronomer designer and Martin Weaver artist. The Quilt Block Sundial in Burnsville was a most impressive example of teamwork and community support. Travelling further, Brian Leonard showed the armillary sundial he fabricated and installed in Marshall, NC.

The NASS conference included exciting talks on a colourful “Parallel Time East West Sundial” presented by new NASS member Peggy Gunnerson and shadow alignments at Toshogu Shrine by Barry Duell of the Tokyo International University.  Frank King talked about a most unusual circular analemmatic dial he designed for the Metropolitana of Naples (an Italian job).  Dr. King was also this year’s recipient of the Sawyer Dialing Prize.  Roger Bailey discussed dials of Mallorca and the “Box of Sapphires”, a compendium designed by Ibn al-Shatir in the 14th century. Fred Sawyer gave a most interesting talk on “Projected Refraction Sundials with Ambigram”, and at the NASS dinner on Saturday, he distributed a special gift to NASS participants: a location specific projected refraction sundial with the ambigram showing “CARPE” on the dial and “DIEM” in the projected shadow.  Other speakers with interesting presentations included Alice Io Oglesby, Bill Gottesman, Dudley Warner and Ken Clark.  Next year’s conference is being planned for Boston.

nass_news_2012_aug_nass_2nass_news_2012_aug_nass_3

 

 

Photos shown: (Top) NASS conference participants underneath Bob Hampton's Quilt Block Dial; (Bottom Left) NASS members examine Alice Oglesby and Hugh Munro's vertical dial at Sunny Point Cafe; and (Bottom Right) Bob Hampton's Equatorial Dial made from a bent yardstick.

Read more: 2012 Conference - Asheville

NASS_2009_John_DavisAt the 2009 NASS Conference in Portland OR, Fred Sawyer announced that the Sawyer Dialing Prize would go to John Davis of the British Sundial Society, “in recognition of the superb quality of the dials he has created, and in appreciation of his historical research to enhance our knowledge of the dialists who preceded us and the craft they left us.”

The award money was used by John to help place one of his magnificent double horizontal sundials on the campus of Purdue North Central University in Indiana. John was able to show off the Spectra Sundial by Jim Tallman of Artisan Industrials. Fred Sawyer reviewed the portfolio of sundials and restorations by John, showing a replica of a 17 th century double-horizontal dial, several small engraved horizontals, a beautiful 14” circular dial and several dials based on the “Grocers’ Pattern” of the 18 th century.

John created a dial plate for the Isaac Newton sculptured dials at Leicester University and UCLA. In the bronze casting it appears that Newton’s prism casts a beam of light onto an equatorial dial. John has also created everything from vertical dials to pocket dials, including replicas of Humfrey Cole’s 1569 designs. John has also been very active in the restoration of many dials as well. After the award announcement, Fred gave John Davis’ presentation on John Seller, a sundial maker and probable forger who was located in London and worked during the 17 th century.

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:
    20
  • 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
  • Sunquest Sundial

    This section is dedicated to Richard Schmoyer who invented the Sunquest sundial.  Please visit http://sunquestsundial.org/ as well.

    Article Count:
    3