Sundial: A device That Started The Time

what is a sundial and how a sundial works and how to setup a sundial

Now if I ask you What time is it now, then you have a number of options to give me the answer such as you can see the time in your mobile or laptop and tell me, you can see time in your wristwatch, If you want, you can use the clock on the wall in front of you. But have you ever thought that in the old times when there was no mobile and laptop, neither the clocks were invented, then that time without any gadget how did people detect the time on a daily basis? So the answer is Sundial.

What Is Sundial

Sundial is a device used to detect the time in the old days when clocks were not invented. The sundial tells the time on the basis of changes in the state of the sun. Sundial looks like a very simple and ordinary device, It is made up of two things, the first one is a flat surface a circular or rectangular plate, in which the hours are graduated, and the other one is a thin triangle rod, which is known as the gnomon, and it is attached at the top of the rectangular plate.

How To Setup A Sundial

For a sundial to work properly, it is also necessary to set it up correctly, and for that, you have to take care of a few things.

  1. Before placing Sundial in any place, check the place, that place should be level and the sunlight is fully visible there without any interruption.
  2. Different types of sundials are available in the market, mostly are verticle, so if you are using a verticle one then don’t forget to place it on a sunny, south-facing wall, it should be.
  3. While placing the sundial, keep in mind that it should be installed in such a way that the gnomon is pointing towards the celestial north. Keep in mind that I have told the celestial north, do not keep it towards the magnetic north of compass.

So these are some points that you have to take care of while placing the sundial. Now let’s see how a sundial works…

How A Sundial Works

As I mentioned above, place Sundial in such a place where it can meet the sunlight completely. Then when the sunlight falls on the sundial, the gnomon casts a shadow which falls on the attached plate in which the hours are graduated and this indicates the time. And as the day progresses and the sun’s position changes in the sky, shadow shows different times in the plate below, that’s how we get the right time with sundial device.

However, now the sundials available in the market have been made with such good methods and techniques that it is easy to calculate time from them. But earlier it was not so, in the old time, people used to make sundial by themselves without using any machine on land or any other worthless things, yet they were able to accurately calculate the time, now you should be wondering how they could be able to do this? So they were able to do that just because of the right calculation of the change in the direction of the sun, so let’s know how?

what is a sundial and how a sundial works and how to setup a sundial
Image Credit: 123RF

As we know, the Sundial uses the solar time to indicates the correct time, solar time is obtained directly from the Sun’s position, and to calculate the changing state of the sun, we have to calculate that how much the Sun’s position changes in an hour. So it is easy to calculate it, We know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, due to which the state of the Sun changes. It takes 24 hours for the earth to rotate 360 ​​°, that means, in an hour the earth revolves around 360 ° / 24 h = 15 °, which means the position of the sun changes 15° in every one hour, and thus people from old-time calculates the time with the sundial. And this is the basic way to calculate time with sundial even today.

But there are some factors that affect the calculation of time from the sundial, about which you have to be careful such as Latitude and Longitude. A sundial that is telling the right time in London, it is not necessary that it will be work correctly in Paris as well because due to the different latitudes, the sun’s path is different in each place.

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So this is everything about sundial, Hopefully, our this article will prove useful to you. Still, if you have any questions in your mind such as what is sundial and how it works, so you can ask us in the comments section.


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