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The sundial is an ancient device used to tell time based on the position of the sun in the sky. As the sun moves across the sky, it shines on a pointer (gnomon) that creates a shadow on the sundial surface to indicate the time. Today we use clocks to tell time but sundials are still a popular and admired addition to any garden or backyard. Coming in a wide variety of designs, materials, and prices, you can select a sundial that fits your interest and budget, whether you make it yourself, buy it pre-made or have it custom made.

Before you buy a sundial, here are a few things to consider:

  • The three most popular styles of sundials are
    • horizontal - a flat plate resting on the ground or a pedestal
    • armillary - an open globe with a arrow as a pointer usually placed on a pedestal
    • vertical - where a sundial is installed on a south-facing wall.
  • If you want the sundial raised, you will need to purchase one that comes with a pedestal, purchase a pedestal that matches/coordinates with the sundial, or place it on a post, railing, tree stump, etc.
  • To tell time, the sundial must be level and the pointer directed toward ttrue north. For accuracy, the sundial must be designed and constructed for your home’s latitude.
  • Some wall sundials are combined with flower planters and some horizontal sundials with birdbaths for more versatile use.
  • For a more personal touch, look for a sundial with an engraved saying or get one that lets you select an engraving. A custom engraving is a great gift to commemorate a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion.

If you are looking for an unusual decor item, the armillary (globe) sundial can be used indoors as a sculpture or art piece, but without sunlight, it will no longer be able to determine time.

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