The 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.
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.
With the successful landing of the NASA rover Curiosity, another sundial is on planet Mars. Turning the color calibration target into a sundial was the idea of Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and Professor Woodruff Sullivan at the University of Washington, originally hailed by “Two Worlds – One Sun”
A new sundial project called “Meantime in Greenwich” opened on “Dingle Day” August 6th in Sir Sandford Fleming Park (affectionately known as “Dingle Park”) located in the Halifax Regional Municipality of Nova Scotia. Media artist David Clark created a series of 24 horizontal sundials that surround the Memorial (Dingle) Tower, a site that once had been Fleming's summer home. Visitors to the public exhibit can download a free app onto their phone or iPad and hear an audio story when they approach each sundial. For iPhone users, aiming its camera at the sundial triggers a 3D object to appear on the screen. As Clark describes it, “Each sundial becomes a pedestal for virtual reality. Everybody becomes their own cinema.”
At 3pm on August 15th Roger Bailey of the North American Sundial Society will hold a public lecture on the historic Ibn al-Shatir sundial at the Great Falls Library in VA. The Analemma Society proposes to recreate the dial’s design, adapted for the latitude of Observatory Park, The Turner Farm, in Great Falls, VA.
Hopefully this will be the second major dial at Observatory Park maintained by the Analemma Society in conjunction with the Fairfax County Park Authority. The first dial was a commemorative dial designed and built by Tony Moss for the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, VA.
“High on the minaret of the Great Mosque in Damascus is a remarkable sundial created by Ibn al-Shatir in 1371. Through the 10th to 14th centuries the science of astronomy, timekeeping and sundials had advanced in major Moslem centres like Cairo and Damascus. Based on the developing science of timekeeping, Ibn al-Shatir designed a unique instrument that was a breakthrough…The sundial features equal hours rather than the previous system of dividing the day into 12 hours regardless of the seasonal changes.”
Update: On Saturday July 22nd, less than two weeks after the Henry Moore sundial was stolen, it was recovered by detectives after receiving tips from the British Crimewatch television series. Three young men, all from Essex, have been arrested on suspicion of two counts of theft and are currently in police custody.
[photo courtesy of the Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeology Project]
At historic Jamestown, Virginia, the first successful English colony in the New World, a rare 17th century ivory sundial was found during recent excavations. You can read about it in Popular Archaeology June-2012
A small ivory diptych sundial was discovered during the Jamestown Rediscovery Archaeological Project dig of soil where a cellar stood as part of the early James Fort. The pocket dial was crafted by Hans Miler, most probably of Nuremberg, Germany. You can see a similar Nuremberg Diptych Sundial from Metropolitan Museum of Art made by Hans Troschel the Elder. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/03.21.38
[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.
NASA has taken outstanding video of the June 6th 2012 transit of Venus. Images were recorded by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory Satellite that records the sun's surface and corona at a number of visible light and ultraviolet wavelengths. [See sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov] These images showing the 2012 transit of Venus were recorded at a wavelength of 171 Angstroms (AIA 171) (Extreme Ultraviolet). This channel is especially good at showing coronal loops - the arcs extending off of the Sun where plasma moves along magnetic field lines. The brightest spots seen here are locations where the magnetic field near the surface is exceptionally strong.
NASA video source and images may be found at http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010900/a010996/index.html