NEW! The Burnsville Sundial!

This is my newest sundial!

It is the world's first Quilt Block Sundial, the largest vertical sundial in North Carolina, and the 150th Quilt Block by Quilt Trails of WNC!

See it in downtown Burnsville, on the Yancey Common Times Journal building at 22 North Main Street.

The sundial design is mine, and the fantastic quilt art was done by Martin Webster. The sundial face was built and painted by Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina, directed by Barbara Webster.

Click here for more photos and information about this sundial!



A real, working sundial is more than just a decoration, it's a useful and fascinating astronomical instrument! It can tell you the time, not by keeping the time like a clock but by actually determining the current time from the relative positions of the Earth and Sun at that moment. So when you read a sundial, you're not just reading the output of a time counter, you're making an astronomical observation of the Sun's position in the sky!

Solar time is still the reference to which clock time must ultimately comply. And in it's own way, a well designed sundial can be as accurate as any clock, and a lot more fun to watch!

I'm making astronomically correct sundials that actually function as working timepieces, accurately and directly displaying Local Apparent Solar Time, corrected for latitude and longitude.


This is my 24" diameter Equatorial Ring type sundial. It's made entirely of steel except the vinyl numerals and markings.

I made this one for a friend in Western NC, and I'm currently making similar dials for friends in Washington and Idaho.

Each of them is designed for the specific latitude and longitude of the site, and they can be easily advanced one hour when "Daylight Saving" time is in effect.


Little brother of the sundial above, my 15" Equatorial Ring can also be advanced one hour during "Daylight Saving" time.

These sundials have a built in Equation of Time (EOT) graph for determining clock time. Explained here.


My "ShadowMeter" is a translucent variation of the "common" vertical sundial, using for it's gnomon (shadow caster) the edge of a plane instead of a rod.

The face of this sundial is made of black vinyl over white acrylic. The gnomon and frame are steel. This one is designed for my location here at the observatory.


What could be better than a "digital" sundial?

The numerals and time dots indicate the time when they cross the black reading line (10:35 in the photo).

It's a calendar too! The date is (crudely) indicated by the position on the reading line where the time dots are currently crossing. The black dot at the bottom of the reading line is summer solstice, the top one is winter solstice, and middle one is the equinoxes (date in photo = just past autumnal equinox, moving toward winter solstice!).

This one can also be advanced one hour when "daylight saving time " is in effect.


The "ThunderGiant".

It's a "Bowstring Equatorial" sundial. The time scale is 4 ft. diameter and has black vinyl numerals.

I made this one for my use here at the observatory. The two black arcs used to be an old iron wagon tire I salvaged from the old family farm where I grew up!

With this sundial I can actually see the motion of the gnomon's shadow as it moves along the time scale at exactly six inches per hour!


It used to be an ordinary aluminum yardstick, now it's a really cool sundial!

Albert Einstein showed us the unity of space and time.

Now with my relativistic Yardstick Sundial I am measuring time with a device meant to measure space!

This little dial is super accurate, and adjustable for use at any latitude or longitude.

It reads 24 hour (or "military") time. One inch of yardstick equals one hour of time, but it is a little wierd reading the time in 16ths and 32nds of an hour!

I'll soon be building a larger version of this type for a friend in North Carolina (but without the 16ths and 32nds!).

I love my sundials, let me build one for you! I have a million ideas, these are just a few! I am Bob Hampton, contact me at:


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