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Sundials

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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