Dials of Interest
Sundials of significant interest either because of artisan, design, history, or placement. An unusal set of dials that should stir anyone's interest
[photo courtesy of John Foad]
Many have been following the Prime time Emmy Award winning series Downton Abbey on PBS. This British World War I period drama was filmed on location at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which represents the fictional Downton Abbey. Many outdoor scenes were filmed in the village of Bampton, Oxfordshire. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downton_Abbey )
As you follow the lives of aristocrats and servants in this acclaimed series, keep an eye out for sundials. Attached is a photo noticed by NASS member John Foad. Want to search for yourself? Look for the dial in front of the hospital. The full episodes of series #1 are available at PBS.org and the new series #2 is just starting.
And while you're at it, look for sundials in Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders, and Father Brown. You'll be surprise how many you find.
[photo courtesy of
All right mate, have a pint of golden sun. You can pick up a sundial beer glass designed by Jackie Jones for 51o North at The Greys Pub in Southover Street Brighton, or if you're out of the country, the dial will work in Banff, Canada, the European cities of Calais, Brussels, and Dresden, and in Kazahstan or other points of equal latitude
The sundial glass motto? “Campaigning for real time”. The sundial glass is a sun altitude type of dial using a frosted ring on one side of the glass to cast a spot of light onto the far side of the glass, calibrated with hour lines for the date of year. Not a bad way to contemplate the time while having a sip. You can get your own sundial glass at http://sundialglass.wordpress.com/
Its not often a sundial is also a monumental piece of sculpture weighing tons, but that is what developer Fred Steiniger installed this May at the Innovation Corporate Center in Oro Valley, Arizona. Long-time NASS member and professional dialist John Carmichael was intimately involved with the 3-year long project, which is still ongoing. Carmichael still has to install a noon-line sundial. Project completion is sometime this year before the planned dedication slated for noon at Autumnal Equinox.
[photo courtesy of Martin Gutoski]
A nearly twenty year project to build a sundial near the Arctic Circle in Fairbanks, Alaska was finished this year by Martin Gutoski, a professional surveyor. Gutoski conceived the idea in 1992 when he reviewed a survey for the local library in Fairbanks’ North Star Borough. Originally out of concern for safe-guarding survey corners, he got in contact with a local club whose members saw to the landscaping of the library and other public buildings. One thing lead to another and so began the odyssey that ended just recently.
One interesting aspect that will appeal to anyone who has ever built or contemplated building a sundial is that the dial location is only about one and one-half degrees south of the Arctic Circle. This is an aspect which Gutoski fully explored with models, first a small one and later a full-scale wooden one, before committing the design to its final form, which uses an airplane propeller for the gnomon.
Click on "Read More" below to see more photos of this sundial.
[all photos courtesy of Dennis Sanford,
Located in Port Angeles, Washington, Peninsula College recently dedicated a sundial measuring eight feet in height. The dial is notable for its unusual design: the basic construction is one of a polar dial, but also includes the sun's analemma so dial viewers can correct for the equation of time.
The dial was designed by the late Ben Davis and donated to the school in his honor by Honey Davis, his mother. Installed on campus near the Science and Technology Building, Dr. Tom Keegan perhaps expressed sentiments the best when he said, “Honey Davis’ very generous gift to Peninsula College is deeply appreciated. It’s fitting that it be placed by our Science and Technology Building so that Ben’s amazing engineering skills serve as an inspiration to our students and encourage them to stop and look and study his sundial."
A novel wrist watch is being proposed which uses LED's instead of the sun to cast shadows. Proposed by an individual named Anders who lives in Sweden, the watch, which is still just a concept, is read much like a conventional analog watch. But instead of an hour hand and a minute hand, it uses LEDs which rotate around the outer ring of the dial and shine on a small gnomon at the center of the watch. One LED casts a shadow for telling hours and another for telling minutes. It is too soon to tell whether this concept watch will prove popular enough to manufacture.
Primarily an industrial designer, Kota Nezu has designed a parasol for people who use their umbrellas for shade as well as staying dry.
With just a little bit of effort, Nezu's dial can be used to tell the approximate time of day and season of the year. The parasol comes equipped with a small compass to aid in lining things up. And even though a true sundial aficionado might point out that a proper dial has to be designed for a specific latitude, this handly umbrella is sure to be a conversation starter come rain or shine.