The Burnsville Sundial

This is the world's first quilt block sundial, and the largest vertical sundial in North Carolina (and maybe even the largest vertical sundial in the southeast US!).

I suggested the idea for this sundial to Barbara Webster, director of Quilt Trails of Western North Carolina, when I noticed that many of her quilt blocks had radial patterns that reminded me of sundials. It seemed to me that the art of their quilt blocks was a perfect match for the science of my sundials!

The design of this sundial is a result of a collaboration between me and Martin Webster. I did the sundial calculations, star map, and gnomon design, and then Martin used those results as the basis for the fantastic quilt art design you see here!

The face of the sundial was built and painted by Martin and Barbara and the other great people at Quilt Trails of WNC. Their skill and experience at making complex, high quality quilt blocks is very well suited to the task of making a truly great sundial.

Reading the sundial:

The large, outer numerals are for use when "daylight saving time" is in effect, and the middle numerals are for the rest of the year. The small, inner numerals show local apparent time, which is the traditional sundial time that was used before we had time zones and "daylight saving time". Hours and half hours are marked by the radial lines of the quilt pattern.

The mountains at the bottom of the design are a graph of the Equation of Time, which is the difference between clock time and sundial time - this allows you to find clock time by using the sundial!

And the star map at the top represents the orientation of the sky as it was at sunrise on Dec. 29th, 1833, the first sunrise over the newly formed Yancey County! Click here to see the brochure

The sundial as seen from the town square, near the statue of Admiral Otway Burns.

Before you go to the sundial be sure to stop by the Quilt Trails of WNC shop located in the Chamber of Commerce in Burnsville. There you can get brochures, a booklet explaing the sundial and solar time in more detail, refrigerator magnets and Burnsville Sundial T-shirts - along with lots of other cool quilt block items!

The sundial is located at 22 North Main Street, in Burnsville NC, USA. Latitude 35.918 N., longitude 82.299 W.

The installation crew: From left, in white shirts are Bob Hampton (sundial maker), Jeff Phillips (installer), Barbara Webster (Director of the Quilt Trails program), and Martin Webster (sundial artist). Also shown are Norman Rabek, David McIntosh, and Jake Blood, who helped with the installation.