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.”

NASS is making these fascinating sundials available at $25 USD each, shipping extra. If you would like to have one of your own, please email us to confirm availability and the amount payable to NASS. Contact Steve Lelievre at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Note: The Sawyer Polar Envelope Sundial is only available for latitudes greater than 40°N or 40°S. Constraints relating to 3D-printing of the complex gnomon shape make it impractical to produce for lower latitudes.

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Sundial = Civil + EoT

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