Press and Pop Culture

Telling time, or not

A friend who knows of my interest in sundials gave me fabulous little, pocket sundial.

The Maritime Pocket Sundial, complete with compass.

While it is nothing fancy, it recalls to my mind the 16th- and 17th-century sundials from Nuremberg. Sure, mine is not made of ivory and wasn’t fabricated by some famous artisan, but I can pretend.

An ivory sundial by Thomas Tucher, sometime in the early 17th century.

The best study on these early sundials is Penelope Gouk’s The Ivory Sundials of Nuremberg, 1500-1700. She offers an excellent study of how they work, how they were made and by whom, why ivory and why Nuremberg, and a catalog of surviving instruments. If you want to know more about sundials, you should pick up a copy of her book and read it.

Penelope Gouk’s excellent study of, well, as the title says: The Ivory Sundials of Nuremberg, 1500-1700.

If you don’t like to read, you can also listen to Pedro Raposo and Sara Schechner talk about sundials from the Adler Planetarium’s collection (Sara has written the wonderful Time of Our Lives: Sundials of the Adler Planetarium, which you can purchase from the Adler): Adler Astronomy Live: Sundials (YouTube)

Sarah Schechner talking about sundials from the Adler Planetarium’s collection.

Although my sundial is a mere cardboard and inexpensive version of the more ornate and expensive ivory sundials Gouk studied, I take small solace in knowing that both types are thwarted by nothing more than a layer of clouds. Unfortunately for me, a dead battery has rendered my alien abduction clock equally useless, unless it happens to be just before 1:00.

The Alien Abduction clock, complete with tractor beam.

If, however, you are interested in reports of UFOs, somebody has posted hundreds of megabytes of declassified CIA documents on UFOs. The truth might be out there, but it has probably been redacted.