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Easily Set A Sundial

Written by Hilary on June 10th, 2009

Sundials are kind of a neat addition to your yard or garden because they have been used for centuries and they can add a sense of history and interest like no other garden decor.

Now there are dozens of different kinds of sundials and setting them up can go from very complicated to very easy depending upon how accurate you want them to be.

For our purposes, we are going to set up our sundial so that it is going to give us the most accurate reading we can get without spending huge amounts of time worrying about longitudes, latitudes, or percentages of angles.

After all, if you want precise time like Greenwich Mean Time, then your cell phone, or digital watch is what you’re after!

Setting A Sundial

1. Be sure the spot you’ve chosen is level and in full sun. If you have picked out a ‘vertical’ sundial, it should be mounted on a sunny, south-facing wall.

2. Place your sundial so that the gnomon (the shadow arm) is pointed toward celestial north. (south in the Southern Hemisphere), not the magnetic north of a compass. The simplest way to find celestial north is to position your sundial at noon. Turn your sundial so that the shadow of the gnomon falls directly on the mark representing noon. You are NOW on sun time.

3. You may not be particularly concerned with complete accuracy of your sundial, but if you are, you should ‘reset’ it on one of the four days of the year when sun time and clock time agree:

4 Days Of The year When to Reset or Set Your Sundial

April 15
June 15
September 1
December 24.

If you set a sundial on other dates, it can be as much as 14 minutes behind clock time or 16 minutes ahead of it. This is simply because sundials measure time ‘as it is’ and each day the length of sunlight is shorter or longer from the previous day’s length.

To a sundial, noon is always when the sun is highest in the sky.

For more Gardening Tips and Gardening Advice visit our main gardening website at Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine

Have great week!


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