Page Editor Sharon Bingham Spring 2008
Page revised Kyle Lloyd Fall 2010
Page Editor Katie Masson Spring 2011

Today billions of humans use the current technology of clocks, digital clocks, wrist watches, cell phones etc. to tell what time it is. Sundials on the other hand, have been used for thousands of years by people from all over the world to tell time. A sundial uses a shadow made by the moving sun to show the time of day mainly in hours. It was found useful to some emerging religions and bureaucracies. The sundial was said to be the first scientific instrument. The first sundials were developed from the obelisks erected by the Egyptians, and was also used by ancient Greece and Rome. With these, the Egyptians could also keep track of the equinoxes and solstices.

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(From left to right)
This is an image of an ancient sundial. (
Night shot of the Sundial Bridge in Redding, CA.
Picture of a classic sundial.

Check out these websites to get more information on sundials. This table rates five websites which have information on sundials.
Rating scale 1=BAD 2=GOOD 3=GREAT
Up-2-date Accurate
Ease of
Clear &
COMMENTS Sundial Society website)
+Website for educating members of their
organization and the public about sundials
+No negative comments- GREAT SITE!
Site can get a bit technical, good for those interested in details such as styles, types, snd nomenclature.
(how-to-make a sundial)
+Website lending step-by-step instructions about how to build your very own sundial
-Some discrepencies in accuracy
Articles are short meaning you must navigate to more pages to find information.
Must type in How to make a sundial in order to get instructions.
(lists interesting facts)
+Plenty of facts, terms, history, etecetera on sundials
+Info access by gender and grade.
This site is actually all links to other sites where you can find the information you are looking for.
(preserving sundial's history in northern hemisphere)
+Website for educating members of their
organization and the public about sundials
+No negative comments- GREAT SITE!
+Site has an impressive list of sundial artisans
(too much information on sundials )
+Great lists with photos & locations of sundials, in order of country
-Overload of information
good for people wanting details.
revised 10/24/2009
Added sites
StainedGlass Sundials from around the World by John L.Carmichael Read on Oct.25,2009.
This site was intended for the craftsman,artist, patrons of the arts and those interested in history of art.Site contains explanation of purpose and dedication. Instructions on how to make stained glass sundials, with suggestion that a professional scientist or mathematician to do the calculations as they are different for every case. Image archive and references(pdf) plus links to commision work are also included.
From Stargazers to starships Author and Curator-David P. Stern Read on Oct.25,2009
An educational site mainly for high school but can be enjoyed and used by others interested in astronomy or space and space flight in general. This one page gives brief explaination of sundial then instructions on how to make one for 38┬░north of the equator. Easy to read and understand.
This site gives you a little bit of history about the sundial. Then it tells you how to make a sundial with a process which is somewhat easy, it just takes some time. This site is just straight text with no pictures so if that is what you're looking for then this is the site for you.
This website is designed to teach you how to mount and use your sundial. There are also links on here for videos and other sites that help you build a sundial. There is a lot of pictures and text, the site is very descriptive and helpful.
If you want to buy a sundial then this is the site for you. There are 3 pages of just sundials that are available for sale.You can also buy thermometers, bells, logs and other various items that you can purchase online. If you would like to post a blog on the site or contact the owners then you can find that information on the site too. This site is very easy to navigate and is self-explanatory.
Sundial history is the main topic on this site. It starts at 5000 B.C. and works a timeline up all the way until present day and the use of sundials and how they have advanced throughout the years. It breaks the time frames down and is very easy to read and follow.
This site shows us one of the biggest sundials in the world, in fact it is the sundial bridge. Located in Redding, CA it is supported by 4300 feet of cable and cost 23 million dollars to construct. The rest of the site talks about the sundial bridge and has some pictures of the amazing structure. I recommend going and seeing this sundial it is amazing.
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Sundial "Man Enters the Cosmos" in Chicago made in 1980
Some terms related to sundials include:
Equation of time -mean solar time = apparent solar time + EoT
equinox -indicates when both hemispheres get equal sun time, around March 21 (vernal/spring) and September 21 (autumnal/autumn)
gnomon (pronounced NO MON) - the pointer on a sundial
nodus -indicates the date on the dial face
solstice -indicates the start of summer (around June 21) and of winter (around Dec. 21) marking the shortest and longest nights of the year
style -indicates the time on the dial face

  • Did you know there are WATER CLOCKS and MOON CLOCKS? Visit the world wide web

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Added sites by Katie Masson
This website is a great website to visit if you are interested in sundials. It gives you a brief history about them along with other great information. It expresses the different types of sundials that are put into two main categories; Altitude dials and Azimuth dials. Through those categories you are able to click on the many types and learn all about them. Another great feature to this site is that it teaches you how to build your own sundial which can be very fun and teach you the ways people told time in the ancient times. The best feature of this site is that it gives you a complete glossary of all the terms that have to do with sundials and the solar system. Have fun!
The main three topics on this website are What is a sundial?, How do sundials work?, and last but not least, The history of sun clocks. This website isn't as detailed as others but has very good information for learning the basics about sundials. The best thing about this website is when you read the introduction it relates with everyday life about waking up to an alarm clock. It then goes on to pose the question, "Have you ever wondered how you would keep track of time if all the clocks in the world really did disappear?" What would you do if there were no clocks around to tell time?
If you love to garden and are looking for sundials to make your garden look beautiful and have style, then this is a great site for you and others. The introduction to this site also gives a brief description of what a sundial is, how it works, and a little bit of history. There are many categories that you can scroll through to find the sundial or sundials for you. This site is very easy to use and if you are interested in purchasing a sundial, there is an 800 number to call.
This website is wonderful for those who want to learn the technical aspect of the sundial. Showing diagrams and giving clear and concise information, you will learn exactly how different types of sundial work after reading this website. This site does get a bit technical with all of the diagrams and graphs, but is a awesome site to understand what time it is when you look at these different types of sundials. This site also gives great information on how to read a sundial if it use's the Sun's altitude or azimuth.
If you are interested in making your own sundial this is the website for you. This site is very easy to understand and use. The site talks about setting up your sundial, the analemma, the seasons, the timeline, sundial for the equator, sundial for the Tropic of Capricorn, more African sundials, make your own sundials on the Web, aligning your sundial and more about sundials. With all of this wonderful information, you will be able to make a sundial and understand every aspect of it. Using this website will be great for you and your friends and family to make your own sundial and have a fun learning experience.

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This is a great picture to show how the shadow of even a person can tell time using the sun and the sundial technique.

All websites listed above are very informative site where you can learn everything you need to know about sundials. Have fun learning about sundials, purchasing sundials, and making your own sundial!