nass_news_2014_jun_WestminsterDial
Westminster Dial with Analemma Casting Mirror on Top
Photo Credit: Robert Clark

How do you get the people of your town interested in astronomy?  Robert (Bob) L. Clark a retired professor of mathematics and computer science and member of the Westminster Astronomical Society had the obvious answer: Build a unique sundial.

In the grassy field next to Hoffman’s Ice Cream in Westminster, the Westminster Astronomical Society dedicated a simple horizontal dial attached to a pole with a unique “ornament” … a vertical south facing mirror.

nass_news_2014_mar_renaissance_time
Telling Time with Precision
(By Permission - Bill Gottesman)

The Andalusia Star News reports that the Lurleen B. Wallace (LBW) Community College in Andalusia, Alabama, has a new timepiece that President Herb Riedel says, “… is a device used for practical purposes to keep time, but they also take on a symbolic meeting. For a college campus, I thought it would be very appropriate because it combines science and art.”

Indeed, the sundial is a large helical sundial, a modern “Renaissance” sundial designed by Bill Gottesman of Precision Sundials in Vermont.

Eight years ago the University of Western Australia (UWA) commissioned a talented graduate, artist Shaun Tan, to create an impressionistic sundial for the 100th anniversary of UWA.  The fundamentals of the west-facing sundial were delineated by UWA Professor Peter Kovesi of the Geophysics and Image Analysis Group.

What Shaun artistically designed based on Professor Kovesi’s hour lines was carefully photographed, scanned and reproduced as a pixilated map that was turned into 337,600 glass chips (tessera) by artisan tiler Iain H. Middleton from V-vo Architectural Mosaics, with Ankit Gakhar, Darren Hay and Brody Osborne.  The mosaic suppliers Bisazza from Vicenza, Italy selected the colored glass to give Shaun Tan’s brilliance as well as accuracy.  They prepared 375 squares each containing 900 individual tessera and shipped them from Vicenza to Perth.  In all, UWA states that “To create the background, place the tiles, clean and detail, grout and polish has taken approximately 560 man-hours.”

The 4.56×8.0 m. sundial was unveiled in January 2013, mounted with precision on a west wall of the University Club building located on the UWA campus in Crawley, Perth. A star-shaped gnomon with an open annulus casts a spot of time on the wall.  During the course of the afternoon, the spot moves from the bottom of the wall to the top, recording Italian Hours until sunset, a common and practical way of measuring time used since the Arabic sundial of al-Shatir in 1371.  The final sunset line is a race between the gnomon shadow and a shadow from a further western building.  Watch the time-lapse video created by Nic Montagu to see which shadow wins the race.  The dial marks the annual limits of the sun’s shadow at the solstices (summer on the left hand and winter on the right hand side) and a middle line for the equinoxes.

Read the full details at: http://hourstosunset.com/

{youtube}wSh3qZWlQp0{/youtube}

The Battle Point Astronomical Association, founded in 1992, provides astronomical observing for science education and public enjoyment at Ritchie Observatory and Planetarium in Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

nass_news_2013_jun_Selvaggio_ArchesSouthwind Park in Springfield Illinois is a National Model Park.  It got its start in October 2004 when trustees accepted the donation of 80 acres of land just off South Second Street.  Their website states "Our unique state-of-the-art park serves as a national model by proving a new dimensions of inclusion for all people."  A park without boundaries that accomodates people in wheelchairs and visitors with special needs. 

nass_news_2013_jan_Carmichael_Dial
[photo courtesy of John Carmichael]

In 2002, the North American Sundial Society recognized John Carmichael with the Sawyer Dialing Prize as an eminent artisan who creates a wide variety of sundials, principally in stone and glass. In recognition, John received a small brass equatorial sundial made by the renowned British artisan Tony Moss.  But for nearly a decade the sundial remained on John's workbench never seeing the full light of day.

Recently Mr. Carmichael completed a 24:1-scale model railroad in his back yard (http://www.flickr.com/photos/jlcarmichael/sets/72157632430552837/with/8348506244/). Now his Sawyer Dialing Prize sundial finally sits in the Arizona sun as a miniature "Monumental Sundial" at the Trolley Station.  At the 24:1 scale, the 3-inch dial assumes the proportion of a large 6-foot equatorial sundial. You can see John Carmichael's dials at http://www.sundialsculptures.com/.

nass_news_2012_dec_WilkesboroSundial
[photoCourtesy of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot]

Some sundial artisans and their work are instantly recognizable.  Back in 2010 on the wall of the Yancey Times Journal building in Burnsville, North Carolina, astronomer Bob Hampton and artist Martin Weaver created the Quilt Block Sundial, an 8x8 foot vertical dial colorfully painted by volunteers from the Quilt Trails of North Carolina.

nass_news_2012_jan_downton_abbey
[photo courtesy of John Foad]

Many have been following the Prime time Emmy Award winning series Downton Abbey on PBS.  This British World War I period drama was filmed on location at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, which represents the fictional Downton Abbey.  Many outdoor scenes were filmed in the village of Bampton, Oxfordshire. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downton_Abbey )

As you follow the lives of aristocrats and servants in this acclaimed series, keep an eye out for sundials.  Attached is a photo noticed by NASS member John Foad.  Want to search for yourself?  Look for the dial in front of the hospital. The complete set of the series can be found on Amazon and Shop PBS.

And while you're at it, look for sundials in Foyle's War, Midsomer Murders, and Father Brown.  You'll be surprise how many sundials you will find.

Attachments:
Download this file (Dials_of_Downton_Abbey.pdf)Dials_of_Downton_Abbey.pdf[ ]313 kB

nass_news_2011_sept_joelmyers_2

On September 22, 2011 Penn State University dedicated a massive granite sundial donated by trustee and alumnus Joel Myers.  Designed and sculptured by artist Mark Mennin, it is installed in the university's arboretum.  At the dedication Myers  said, "We wanted to create something unique...The sundial is to be a destination".  Though still lacking a few final touches, such as a bit of polishing, the large granite dial is functional and tells time to the nearest minute.