Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Memorial Sundials

Sundials are used as memorials to signify light and hope.  Some are in cemetaries and small parks, others are at scenic vistas, and others are integrated into the fabric of our cities and towns.  All are important and lasting symbols.

Bracewell Memorial Sundial at VLA
Photo Credit: NRAO/AUI/NSF

In 1961 Professor Ronald Bracewell at Stanford University created an X shaped array (called a “Chris-Cross array” for W.R. “Chris” Christiansen) using 32 10-foot diameter dish antennas to form a radio spectroheliograph nestled in the hills of Palo Alto, California. 

Read more: VLA Sundial Memorial

nass_news_2013_sep_hampton_dial-2Tom Carpenter, a member of the Hampton fire company for 44 years, presented plans for a 9/11 memorial to the Borough Council at the beginning of 2012 and Councilman James Cregar began designing the memorial as a sundial using beams recovered from Ground Zero of the Twin Towers.

Read more: 9/11 Timeless Sundial Dedicated In Hampton, N.J.

nass_news_2012_sep_CrontonMemorialDialOn September 11, 2012 the Town of Cortlandt and the Villages of Buchanan and Croton-on-Hudson in New York will dedicate a giant sundial as part of a 9-11 memorial using steel salvaged from the World Trade Center site.  All are welcome to the dedication.

Visitors attending the dedication of the Buchanan*Cortlandt*Croton-on-Hudson (BCC) 9-11 Remembrance Memorial are asked to assemble at 2:30 pm at the Croton Landing parking lot and walk the 1/2 mile to the memorial site for the 3 o’clock ceremony.  A van will be available for those who wish to ride. For further information, please call the Project Director, Janet Mainiero at 914-271-8222.

Read more: 9-11 Memorial Sundial Dedicated at Croton Landing

[photo courtesy of volunteers at the McCarthy Observatory ]

On Saturday, June 9th 2012, the volunteers of the John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford, CT, dedicated a 9-foot stainless steel sundial as the centerpiece of “Galileo’s Garden” adjacent to the John J. McCarthy Observatory. The sundial was built and dedicated in memory of Kathleen Fischer, a sixth-grade science teacher who inspired many students to pursue science. 

The sundial is an open armillary, with an adjustable hour band for standard and daylight time. At the tip of the gnomon is a bronze and brass true-size rendering of Galileo’s first telescope, honoring the 400 years since Galileo explored the heavens.  The North American Sundial Society was privileged to donate to this effort.

Read more: Fischer Dial Dedicated in New Milford, CT

nass_news_2012_april_hampton_twintowerbeamTodd Petty reported in the Hunterdon County Democrat that Tom Carpenter, a member of Fire Company 13 for forty-three years, presented plans to the city council for a 9/11 memorial in Veteran’s Park located in Hampton Borough, New Jersey.

The park has memorials honoring local veterans from The Great War to those of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  During the twin tower collapse of 9/11 Tom Carpenter recalled, “Thank God we didn’t have anyone from Hampton Borough, but Lebanon and Bethlehem did. We did respond to Ground Zero within hours …and spent two days there. Hampton does have a direct connection [to 9/11] and we’re proud of it.”

Read more: Hampton to Build 9/11 Memorial Sundial

nass_news_2011_sep_freedomsundial_2September 11th is a time of remembrance. At Freedom High School in Woodbridge, Virginia stands a large sundial dedicated in 2004 with four inlaid plaques. The plaques are arranged on the ground such that the gnomon shadow tip falls on them at  8:45, 9:03, 9:37 and 10:07 AM, the times of the four air crashes.  Near the sundial is a low, black granite panel commemorating the citizens of Prince William County that lost their lives on September 11th, and the names of those citizen are on bricks surrounding the sundial.

Read more: September 11th Remembrance