How to Use Armillary Sundials

Written by china zmuida | 13/05/2017
How to Use Armillary Sundials
An armillary sundial (sundial image by Earl Robbins from

An armillary sundial is based on an ancient device used to measure time based on the location of the sun on the horizon. An armillary uses a shadow stick, or gnomon, to pinpoint the hour of the day. As the sun progresses over the horizon, the shadow produced by the sun will be cast in a clockwise movement. Armillary sundials are both beautiful lawn decorations and accurate timepieces.

How to Use Armillary Sundials
Find a level surface on your lawn (lawn,grass image by Greg Pickens from

Find a flat surface in your backyard. The flatter the surface on which your sundial is placed, the more accurate will be your sundial's time. Avoid placing your sundial in an area that is uneven or bumpy.

How to Use Armillary Sundials
Place your sundial in direct sunlight (sundial image by Jan Zoetekouw from

Place your armillary sundial on a sturdy mount or pedestal to prevent accidental movement. Use the screws or anchors provided with the mount or pedestal to secure your sundial in place. Position your sundial where it will receive the most direct sunlight during the day.

How to Use Armillary Sundials
Use a compass to locate north (the compass image by laviniaparscuta from

Ensure that the arrowhead of your gnomon is facing north, as stated by Use a compass to help you pinpoint the exact direction of north.

How to Use Armillary Sundials
Watch for the shadow made by the gnomon (19 image by Lukasz Ozimek from

Use a watch to set your sundial. At a particular hour, adjust your sundial so that the shadow made by the gnomon falls on the corresponding number on the hour band.

Things you need

  • Compass
  • Pedestal or mount
  • Watch

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