A sundial is always accurate, right? Believe it or not, you should “set” your sundial a few times a year. Placement is different for every geographic location. As we start to enjoy more outdoor time, finding a decorative sundial and making sure it actually does its job can be easy.

Put your sundial in a location that is flat and gets full sun.

Calibrate the gnomon. A gnomon is the part of the sundial that sticks up from the face of the dial. Line up the gnomon with the North Star.

The best time to calibrate your sundial is at noon, when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.

“Sun time” and “clock time” agree only four times a year:  April 15,  June 15, September 1, and December 24. On one of these dates, go outside at noon and position the sundial so the shadow cast by the gnomon indicates noon as well. If you want accurate time all year, you will need to recalibrate your sundial seasonally as the sun moves faster in the spring and slower in the winter.

The sun does not know about Daylight Savings time. Depending on what state you live in, your sundial may be off by an hour.

garden sundial with cast iron pedestal

Photo: Austin Auction Gallery

 

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