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Learn About the Different Styles of Sundials

Aug 17, 2007
Sundials have been around for more than three thousand years. Their history dates back to the ancient Egypt. Shaped like a letter L, a comparison of the length of the shadow of the two lines of the L indicated the time of the day. The Romans took this ancient design and modified it into the sundial we know today.

Sundials were marked with hours and minutes. There were those that marked dates, seasons, and tides. With the invention of clocks, sundials became obsolete. These days sundials are mostly found in gardens as a part of the gardening décor. Sundials work according to the rotation of the earth in relation to the sun. The shadow of the gnomon travels 15 degrees every hour; this allows the sundial to be marked, determining the hour of the day.

There are many different types of sundials available. There are horizontal dials, vertical dials, equatorial dials, polar dials, analemntic dails, reflected ceiling dials and portable dials. Horizontal dials are made with the gnomon (the part that casts the shadow) designed at an angle to the horizontal dial plate. The vertical sundial is usually mounted on a wall. The equatorial sundial resembles the shape of a globe. The equatorial dial has the dial plane at the equator perpendicular to the dial plate. These three are the most popular sundials used to date.

Using sundials as a part of garden décor

Sundials can be used as a central part of garden décor. They work well in different types of gardens; formal, cottage style, modern and traditional. There is a multitude of designs of sundials available to match the many different types of garden styles.
The best kind of sundials for your garden is the horizontal and equatorial types of sundials. Equatorial sundials resemble globes and have a fixed dial plate at the equator plane. A rod set perpendicular to the dial casts the shadow on the plate. A horizontal sundial consists simply of a dial plate. The dial plat has marking equally spaced to represent the hours and the gnomon that casts the shadow is a raised projection. These are the types of sundials that are most popular.

Placement of the sundial

A sundial should be placed in a location that brings out its maximal effect. It can be used as a focal point in garden. It can be placed on a pedestal in the center of a geometric herb garden, or along a path as a front stage that draws ones eyes to the wonderful view that lies beyond. If you like the practical aspect of the sundial, place it in a sunny location with a wooden bench nearby to provide a relaxing and contemplating point in your garden.

Sundials can be purchased online. From antique sundials to more contemporary styles, you will find a large selection of sundials available online, allowing you to a find the sundial that matches you garden décor.
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