Armillary sundial reads summer solstice by a ball shadow at noon

At the summer solstice the armillary sundial casts a shadow of the ball at noon

At summer solstice the ball on the upper tropic ring casts its shadow exactly onto the opposite ring below. The upper tropical ring is the tropic of Cancer and lower ring is Capricorn.

The armillary sphere dates back to ancient times when astronomers created their own vision of the earth and the heavens. The idea still works today and our own design creates a sundial with a special feature of two balls that mark the passage of the seasons by their shadows. One of the balls reads summer solstice. This is the high point of the year when the sun is highest in the sky.

The balls are carefully positioned at the meridian point on two tropical rings, the upper one on the Tropic of Cancer and the lower one on the Tropic of Capricorn. When the sun is at noon, the highest point of the day, the ball on the Tropic of Cancer casts its shadow right across the sundial to the opposite tropical ring, exactly at summer solstice. This year the actual time of the solstice is 9.13am GMT (10.13am BST) on 21st June 2022. You will find a full explanation of summer solstice at the Royal Museums Greenwich.

Sundial restoration at Butterton church turns up a mystery engraving

Brass sundial plate turned over and showing engraved writing on the back

The engraving looks like Gothic script but we didn’t know how to read it. We do hope to learn more about this extraordinary discovery on the back of a brass sundial. So far it has proved a mystery.

The Church of St Bartholomew in the lovely Staffordshire village of Butterton in the Peak District stands on high ground. Its tall spire is visible for miles around. Just near the church’s south porch there is a sundial. The sundial pedestal may once have been part of a medieval stone cross, and the dial made of brass Continue reading

Restoration of a small brass garden sundial from the 1930s

Brass sundial from the 1930s restored with a new gnomonThis small brass garden sundial had lost its gnomon. It is dearly loved by its owner who has known it since childhood, and she wanted to have it restored. As often happens at different times the family moved home and the sundial moved too. Continue reading

The last of our songbird sundials flies to Paris

Orbdial sundial design with songbird gnomon

This design is a form of universal sundial. It is adjustable and we build it for its intended latitude.

The last of our songbird sundials has flown away. It now has a new home in a new country, in Paris. This special design appeals to the eye and has intriguing gnomonic features. The new owner already knew that the Orbdial was the one they wanted. Continue reading

Armillary sundial shadow one month on from winter solstice

Armillary sundial shadow one month on from winter solstice

The shadow of the ball on the sundial follows the sun all year round. The sun is low in the sky in winter, and it reaches its lowest point at the Winter Solstice on 21st December. This photo is one month later on 20th January. The sun is already higher in the sky, and the ball’s shadow has moved down.

Sundials catch a shadow from the sun. It is such a simple idea. The shadow on the sundial shows the sun’s position in the sky and the sundial reads it out as time, usually the time of day and often the time of year as well. Our armillary sundial is a special one with two balls that give the time of the year measured by the height of their shadow at noon. One ball casts a shadow in the winter months and the other one in summer. Continue reading

Accurate Solar Time Sundial Installed in a North London Garden

Accurate Solar Time sundial installed and set up at the exact time of local Noon

The sundial is in our client’s garden in North London. The sundial faces due south. We set it up at Noon on 28 November, using accurate corrections for the Equation of Time and local Longitude. The photo shows Solar Time at 12.30pm.

The world of solar time has fascinating ideas to explore. Our accurate sundial is almost a compendium of what a sundial can do. The client’s wish was something special for their newly created garden, and our design of a vertical sundial display appealed to them. Continue reading

Our replica of the lighthouse sundial is now complete

Replica lighthouse sundial

A replica lighthouse sundial made in naval brass and copied in detail from a similar one held in the National Museum of Scotland at Edinburgh.

Our replica lighthouse sundial is complete now. We handed it over to its new owner, who came to collect it from us in Edinburgh in September. “This is wonderful,” he said. “It is even better when I see it than I ever imagined. This sundial will go right in the centre of my lighthouse display.” Continue reading

Rustic stone sundial in an Edinburgh garden

A stone sundial carved in rustic style for an Edinburgh garden

This sundial is delightful. It is the first piece of work by someone in Edinburgh who is learning to do stone carving. It is a very good sundial and they should be proud.

A sundial carved in stone is always special. This sundial is the first piece of work by a stone carver who has begun learning the craft of carving for their own pleasure. The result is very good. The rustic design suits the sunny spot on their slightly overgrown wall in the garden in Edinburgh so well.

Even a rustic design has to follow the sundial rules for the angles of lines on the dial and the angle of slope of the gnomon. Continue reading

Restoration of an Atlas figure armillary sundial

Armillary sundial and Atlas figure after restoration

After years of gradual deterioration outdoors the sundial was in poor condition. The Atlas figure was hard to recognise. This is an Art Deco design from the 1930’s. It has now come back to life as a working armillary sundial after complete restoration.

This armillary sundial was once in poor condition. It had been outside in the garden for a long time, and the owners asked us to restore it for them. The Atlas figure that supports the rings, and the arrowhead and tail, were badly tarnished. Continue reading

The impossible Dihelion sundial photo

The impossible Dihelion sundial photo

We shot this impossible photo blind because there is no room to stand between the sundial and the house wall.

Dihelion is our well-known dual sundial design, which reads solar time and solar declination. It is impossible to take this photo in the normal way because the sundial is too close to the house, and there is nowhere to stand. So the photo was taken by holding the camera against the house and shooting blind. At a first attempt, the picture has turned out well. Continue reading