Back in March of 2012, NASS had an article about an inventive sundialist constructing a 62-LEGO block equatorial dial. That now seems like ancient history. In Beijing China, dialists have built a ring dial 9 1/2 feet in diameter consisting of more than 45,000 LEGO blocks, setting a new Guinness World Record.
The dial was the idea of Mrs. Hou at Playable Design, a company that creates and develops eduational activities using LEGO construction blocks. Astronomical professionals and structural engineers were enlisted to guide this three month construction project. According to an article from the on-line Guiness World Records website, Mrs. Hou (founder of Playable Design), says the giant ring sundial "... is a teaching tool that allows children to learn sciences across disciplines including astronomy, mathematics, history and cosmology. Inspire children to think and ask questions, when they see the ring sundial, but we are all very excited to ber recognized by the Guinness World Records at the same time.... This is an important part of a public education project. For creators and educators like us, the process of learning never stops."
See a time-lapse video of the dial's construction at: http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2018/11/45-000-bricks-used-to-create-largest-lego-brick-ring-sundial-for-gwr-day-546470
The Land Institute is a not for profit organization based in Salina, Kansas, having a goal to create an agriculture system that mimics natural systems in order to produce ample food and reduce or eliminate the negative impacts of industrial agriculture. A mile north of the Institue is their Marty Bender Nature Area where Owen Brown has created an art project "Units of Measurement". According to Jason Beets of the Salina Journal, his project "consists of three sets of sun dials created from praire-colored angled flag poles to symbolically represent the passage of time."
The idea is to meditate on the passage of time. The first set of three poles, called "In the Beginning" is 1,190 feet east of another set of poles called "The Passage of a Second". According to the artiist, this is the distance that the earthrotates in one second. A third site, called "From the Future" is located 723 feet north of "In the Beginning" is placed such that at "... dawn of the summer solstice, the shadows of the sundials at “From the Future” will touch [point to] the sundials at “The Passage of a Second.” Owen said, "I want this installation to make us more aware of where we are, who we are, and how we are ... in relation to the earth, to what we grow, and to what nurtures us."
Interesting art but very poor science. For each cluster of three flag poles, only the one point to North can work as a sundial. And the pole needs to be at an angle from the ground equal to the latitude of 38.855° N. From the photo, the angle is closer to 60°. Fortunately there are no hour lines on the ground to show the incorrect time of the shadow.
If a dialist computes the distances of separation, again our artist fails. We need to meditate on using the radius of the earth at Salina, KS, (a value between the earth's equatorial radius of 6378.137 km and polar radius of 6356.752 km. The parallel circumference distance is 2pi*R*cos(lat), which is 27142 km, the distance Salina KS travels in a day. But what is a day? Here we need to use the sidereal day of 86164.1 seconds (giving one revolution of the earth in inertial space). The distance between "In the Beginning" and "The Passage of a Second" is therefore 27142/86164, resulting in 1,033 ft, not 1,190 ft. By the way, if we had a telescope and somehow watched the events from one site to another, we would see the event 1 microsecond later. Another unit of time to contimplate.
The azimuth of sunrise (when the limb of the sun just peaks over the horizon) at summer solstice is a bit messy to calculate, but turns out to be 62.1° measured clockwise from north. The separation distance between "From the Future" and "In the Beginning" to have the sun's shadow align with "Passage of a Second" is 1,033/tan(62.1), giving only 547 ft, much shorter than the 723 ft designed by the artist. So for a dialist, there are indeed many things to meditate looking upon and calculating shadows at Owen Brown's "Unit of Measurement" in Kansas.
On Wed, Oct 3, 2018 the six-foot-tall Cranmer Sundial and surrounding Plaza were rededicated, celebrating the completion of a \(2 million renovation project that started nearly two years ago. The city's Parks and Recreation Department replaced the cracked and sinking terrazzo plaza that was originally laid in the 1930s. They improved the drainage system that was a factor in the plaza's deteriation as well.
In 1941 George Cranmer placed a sundial of Chinese tradition on what was then called Mountain View Park. But in 1966 the original Cranmer Sundial was blown up with dynamite. The community rallied to raise funds and through the Erickson Monument Company, erected a large 6-foot disk equatorial dial of pink granitie on a terrazzo plaza. But the years did not treat the sundial well. When the sundial fell into disrepair the community pulled together again, and through the organization The Park People started "Save Our Sundial" and began fundraising. In all, citizens were able to raise \)830,000 for the dial's repair. The Denver City Council committed to the rest of the funding, but the restoration would not be possible without the financial support of the residence of Hilltop community.
At the dedication, City Councilwoman of District 5, Mary Beth Susman said, “To have it restored to what George Cranmer’s vision was ... meaningful to all of us, and to have it restored in such a beautiful way, with the inlay still there, I can’t tell you how moving it is to celebrate this day.” [CBS News]
The Sundial Mural Project has been completed. Sasch Stephens of NW Sunworks spent years putting this project together and in association with Allied Arts sponsored an international competition that ultimately commissioned Gretchen Leggitt to paint a beautiful 30' x 60' wall mural incorporating the dial. The bright and engaging sundial mural is located on the south facing wall of 207 Unity Street in Bellingham, WA.
The dial and mural will be dedicated at noon Saturday, September 22, 2018 which coinsides with the date of the fall equinox. Called the "First Shadow Celebration" city council officials and noted sudialists will be present, as will Mataio Gills, co-owner of Ciao Thyme, the building that supports the mural and vertical dial. There will be music, entertainment, information about sundials, sundial kits, and a celebration of Solar Noon on the Equinox as seen on this major vertical sundial.
If you are in the Seattle-Bellingham-Vancouver area, head for the sundial dedication and First Shadow Celebration on the equinox, Saturday, Sept 22.
In Portland Oregon during the rennovation of Ulysses S. Grant High School an old brass sundial with only the remenant of a gnomon stood on a concrete pedestal ready to be turned into scrap metal and dust. But now according to Portand KPTV "a group of veterans want to bring it back similar to its original state." The dial, about 8 inches in diameter with Roman numerals from 5am to 7pm has the engraved inscription "Presented by Grant High School in Memory of the Grant High Boys Killed in Action in World War II"
KPTV Fox News 12 reporter Tyler Dumont interviewed Daniel Thompson, "We're going to restore it and make it a part of the future of Grant High School," He and other contractors, all veterans, formed a group to restore it for the school's opening in the summer of 2019. Thompson continued, "As a veteran, all the veterans feel like remembering the wars that were fought and the wars we're still fighting - it's important that everybody, every student, does not forget that."
Tyler Dumont summed it up: "A historic piece of patriotism and honor at Northeast Portland’s Grant High School: this sundial is in memory of 101 former Grant students that were killed in World War II. After years of vandalism & aging, a group of veterans are set to restore it." pic.twitter.com/5NsibjDTfp
See KPTV's video of the sundial and interview at: https://www.kptv.com/news/group-restoring-historic-sundial-honoring-veterans-at-portland-high-school/article_9d2d432a-b52d-11e8-a26e-c3d447a6d595.html
It has been 17 years since 2001 when on September 11th terrorists attacked the world trade center and the Pentagon. To memorialize this tragic event artifacts from the Word Trade Center are now in 1,100 cities, large and small, across the country that have received portions of the Trade Center wreckage from the Port Authority of New York. In Tampa along Bayshore Boulevard near Bay Boulevard is a striking memorial. Here is a World Trade Center in miniature, represented as two tower outlines, matching the orientation and scale of the site in New York City. Thin aluminum members rise from the memorial base, tracing the placement, material, and proportions of the twin towers. The memorial is one one-hundreth the scale of the actual towers and site. The memorial was dedicated on Friday, September 9th, 2018.
Interviewed by Fox 13 News of Tampa, John Thompson of Wilder Architect who designed the memorial explained, "So we put [the steel I-Beam from the Tower, setting] it standing straight like the column in the North Tower, symbolically." Thompson continued, "The column for the World Trade Center acts as a sundial...There's a portion of concrete base that in the morning of September 11th when the shadow of the column hits that particular piece of concrete, that's the [time of] impact of the plane on the north tower. As the morning carries on, when the column shadow falls off the concrete, that's when the building fell." American Airlines Flight 11 hit the World Trade Center at 8:46am. After burning for 102 minutes, the north tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, killing approximately 1,400 people.
According the Fox 13 News, "It's a place where joggers stop to pray and groups stop to reflect, such as the Bayshore Patriots, an organization where members stand at its corner every Friday to wave the U.S. flag at commuters. Thompson invites everyone to come out the morning of 9/11 and see the sundial."
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The North American Sundial Society held their annual sundial conference in Pittsburgh, a four day affair for gnomonists to convene and share their enthusiasm for all things sundials. This conference was special as the NASS celebrated the society's 25th anniversary. Starting in 1993 with only a handful of dialing enthusiasts, the society has grown to over 250 members extending from North America to all parts of the globe. For this conference NASS members convened from around the world representing countries of Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Australia. Scheduled to attend but intervened by last minute issues preventing their attendance were dialists from Mexico and Italy. All came with one objective - to share their enthusiasm for sundials.
On Thursday evening Aug 16th the dialists gathered at the Garden Hilton in downtown Pittsburgh to participate in drawings for assorted door prizes including sundials and books on dialing. On Friday all boarded a charter bus to view the sundials of Pittsburgh, taking a tour that included a large steel equatorial designed and built by Anthony Vitale, a multi-faced dial at Old Economy Village dating to 1825, and a dial commemorating the battle at Bushy Run in 1793 that was found at the site of the Fort Pitt Block House during its 1894 restoration by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution who still own and preserve the structure and the sundial. The tour included the dial at Frick Fine Arts Museum (near the geenhouse), the Riverfron Park Sewickley analemmatic (human) sundial, and the large octagonal horizontal sundial at Homewood Cemetery.
On Saturday and Sunday attendees listed to presentations on ring dials (with a diverson into the history of solving cubic equations), helical sundials (and 3D printing), viking sunstones (with a description of the birefracting material calcite), lunar sundials (Sciathericum Seleniacum), van Schooten and Dialing Scales (published in 1657), Time for Rita's (a vertical declining dial designed for an ice cream store in Elizabethtown, PA), and zenith days below the Tropic of Capricorn (and a year-long photograph of the analemma over the El Cerrito pyramid in Querétaro, Mexico),and much, much more. On Saturday evening the Sawyer Dialing Prize was awarded this year to Gianpiero Casalegno from Italy for his achievements in harnessing modern ditital technology to the benefit of tradional dialists around the world. The prize includes an elegant Spectra Sundial by Artisan Industrials (Jim Tallman) and a cash award. Gian has chosen to given the cash award as a donation to the Bellingham Mural Project lead by Sasch Stephens. The dial will be dedicated on the coming equinox, Sept. 22.
NASS members enjoyed this year's conference and are now planning for next year's convening, tentatively to be held in Denver, Colorado.
The Van Vleck Observatory has received a new sundial. In the Wesleyan news letter article by Olivia Drake who interviewed provost Joyce Jacobsen who said, "Campus doesn’t have enough outside art. A sundial is a perfect piece because it’s not only aesthetically pleasing but it’s functional too.” (https://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2018/07/17/sundial-sculpture-installed-on-van-vleck-observatory/)
The 6 x 6 foot Muntz metal bronze sundial with stainless steel reinforcing weighing 650 pounds was carefully installed on the southern face of the 20-inch Clark Refractor dome on Foss Hill, Middletown, CT. The Alvan Clark telescope now open for public viewing was installed in July, 1922. In 1971 the Van Vleck observatory acquired the 24-inch Perkin reflector, housed in a separate dome near the west end of the old observatory building. (http://www.wesleyan.edu/astro/van-vleck/history.html)
The July 16th, almost exactly 96 years since the installation of the Clark telescope, the dome was graced by a sundial. Installation was supervised by the designer and creator, Robert Adzema (standing on the platform). He visited the campus multiple times with paper and wooden models seeking the right esthetic design. The final dial design is a true south declining sundial (notice the equinox line is parallel to the ground) but the hour lines are corrected for the longitude 72° 39.5585' W such that mean noon occurs 9m 22s after local mean noon. Hence a slight counter-clockwise twist to the hour lines (the 6am hour line is slightly below the horizontal). The shadow of the gnomon's tip traces the solstices and equinox. "I wanted the design to look timeless and in keeping with the classical nature of the building,” said Adzema. In Drake's article Adzema further commented on the patina of the bronze dial, saying, "I chose this green because it is the natural color bronze would oxidize over time. It is also a shade that looks great against the color of the observatory’s brownstone walls...The biggest difficulty was achieving the patina, which had to be applied by heating the surface of the dial and applying various chemicals and acids.”https://newsletter.blogs.wesleyan.edu/2018/07/17/sundial-sculpture-installed-on-van-vleck-observatory/