Sundials - World's Oldest Clocks

North American Sundial Society

Do you want one of the most unusual sundials ever created?

This new and unusual type of sundial shows Civil Time (clock time for your time zone). It was invented in 2019 by Fred Sawyer, President of the North American Sundial Society (NASS), and consists of
     • a uniquely-shaped gnomon (the shadow-casting part) permanently attached to a circular base,
     • a moveable ring that is marked on the outside edge with hours, subdivided at 5-minute intervals.

The outer edge of the base and the inner edge of the ring are both marked with calendars (date scales). Once the sundial has been installed on a horizontal surface with the base aligned to Earth’s Pole (true North or South), it is ready for use. The sundial is adjusted daily by turning the ring to line up the calendar position for the current date on the ring with the corresponding position on the fixed base. Then the gnomon shadow matches clock time throughout the day.

Polar Envelope Sundial
The photograph shows a sundial made for the city of Victoria in Canada. The calendar marks are lined up for a date in early May. The sundial shows that the photograph was taken at almost exactly 1:25 p.m.

The 3D-printed version currently available from NASS is made from gray plastic. It is 160 mm in diameter (about 6¼ inches). The height depends on the latitude for which the dial is constructed; usually it will be about 75 mm (about 3 inches). Two rings are provided for places that use Daylight Saving Time; simply swap the rings to “Spring Forward, Fall Back.”

We can only produce this dial for latitudes greater than 40° N or 40° S. At lower latitudes, the concept is equally valid but it becomes impractical to 3D-print the complex gnomon. Instead, a wedge can be used to incline a 40° dial to work at a lower latitude. Should you wish to pursue this option, a suitable wedge will be included with your dial..

NASS is making these fascinating sundials available at $27.50 USD each, with shipping extra. If you would like to have one of your own, contact Steve Lelievre to make arrangements. Please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Site Search

Current Sun

Sundial = Civil + EoT

We use session cookies on this site. Please review our policies or click OK to approve and continue.