What is a sundial and How it works

If you want to go back to ancient times and follow their method of knowing the time, you can buy a sundial or make one of your own. A sundial gives you the updated time of the day from the shadow created from the ray of sun.

If you want to build it on your backyard on your own instead of buying, you can increase the beauty of your backyard and also know the time as you are living in an ancient time. When no clock was invented in the world, people used to make sundials to know the time. And a well-made sundial can provide you accurate timing too.

What is sundial


What is sundial

So what is a sundial? A sundial clock is a device that tells you about the time using the by the shadows created from the position of sun a flat surface. As the name indicates, you must need the sun to get some information from your sundial. What you need to do first is to place the sundial in your backyard, where there is a lot of sunshine.

A sundial is no worth of use when the sun is not seen like in a winter morning or rainy day and of course, you can’t get anything from a sundial during the night. Another thing you need is the gnomon, which receives the ray from the sun and creates the shadow on the flat scaled surface to inform you about the time. The gnomon can be a stick or a triangular thing. Please place it in the right place for having an accurate measurement of the time.

Parts of a sundial

Modern-day sundial works through a simple flat surface with a stick placed on it to catch the sunshine and tell the time by creating the shadow. There are some essential parts of a sundial.

The flat surface: The platform where the shadow of the sun will be created is the flat surface of a sundial. Typically the surface is spherical and there are several marks drawn to show the movement of the time. If you are willing to make a sundial in your backyard, then make a large surface for this.

The gnomon: It is possibly the essential part of a sundial. It is the thing that catches sun ray to tell the time by projecting a shadow on to the surface. You can use a stick, triangular object or rectangular object in this regard, but remember it has to be faced towards the north. And for a more accurate measurement, you can use the notch on the top of the gnomon.

Hour marks: You have to make hours marks on the flat surface so that when the shadow falls on the surface, you can identify what time it is. While drawing mark try to keep the distance between every mark as similar as possible.

How does a sundial works

A sundial is a pretty simple looking device that works through the sun to make shadows and tell the time accurately. But the working process of a sundial is not that easy as it looks.

  • Place the sundial in a place where there is ample sunshine because without sun you won’t be able to get any information about the time from this ancient device. And the gnomon must be placed to the north direction.
  • Now while the earth is moving on its axis, the sun is moving around the earth. And during the movement of the sun, every object on the earth surface catches the sunray to draw shadows.
  • The gnomon will do the same task as the other objects on the earth, but it will do to tell the time. After catching the sunray, it projects a shadow on the flat surface to tell the time.
  • A noticeable side of getting time from sundial is that, due to the movement of the earth on its own axis, the sun changes its visible movement daily. So you can’t use a typical stick anywhere and anyway to know the accurate time.

History of sundial

The first sign of sundial was found .pdf in the valley of kings in Upper Egypt and the time was 1500 BCE. The largest version of sundials is the obelisk and it was used that time in the temples to let the people know the time. When the ray of the shining sun falls on the stick or which is mostly known as gnomon nowadays, it creates shadow and tells the time.

Like the Egyptians, Greeks also used sundials to measure the time a long ago. Around 560 BC, the Greeks developed sundial from the initial counterparts of the Babylonian. The Romans followed the Greeks and it was found in 293 BC that they were also used to keep the time. There is a lot of timekeeping methods invented before we got cell phones or watches. But among all these, sundialsare a prevalent and accurate device. Also Wind spinner is one side sundial clock, 2 equipment is setup in your yard.

Type of sundials

There are mainly two types of sundials you will find, azimuth sundials and altitude sundials. Within these two categories, you can choose many more types of sundials.

  • Azimuth sundials: In simple words, azimuth sundial uses the sun’s direction to tell the time. It determines the time from the sun’s angle on its daily arc. Mainly, this angular distance is determined from the point of the observer to the target, which is sun here. You will get many types of sundials in this category like, horizontal, vertical, polar, armillary and equatorial etc.
  • Altitude sundials: These sundials are placed vertically towards the sun and as the name indicates, it uses the altitude of the sun to tell the time. Sun’s height above the horizon is known as its altitude. There are also many sundials in this category like cylindrical sundials, digital sundials, ring sundials etc.

Final words

Staying in this modern era, I won’t say you must need a sundial in your home or workplace. But yes, you can’t ignore the need for this device at the ancient time when there was no sign of modern watches or cell phones. You can at least pay gratitude by making a sundial in your backyard, which will also increase the beauty of your residence for sure.

Last Updated on June 16, 2022 by Tufail

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