The Outdoor Sundial


You can get patterns to make an indoor sundial, but if you want to make a project for your school, church, or even for your home, you might want to construct a large outdoor sundial.

First, you will need to find a large, flat area that is in full sun, and from which you can see Polaris, the North Star, in the evening. You will also need a concrete post or some other form that stands about four to five feet tall, and about 12 concrete flagstones.

Mark the area that you want to use for the sundial, and place the post securely in the ground. On a clear evening, find Polaris (You can use the pointers in the bowl of the Big Dipper.), and anchor a line to the post and secure it about 3 feet away to a stake in the ground. This will be your 12:00 NOON marker. 
You will want to place a flagstone here, with the cord centered in the middle of the flagstone. Measure the distance to the pole. You might want to tie a knot in the string at the three-foot mark. Each flagstone will be placed at the same distance from the pole, and will form a semi-circle around the pole. To place a flagstone, use a knife or trowel to mark around the flagstone. Remove the flagstone, and dig out the area to form a depression to seat the flagstone in. Level the area, and replace the flagstone. You will use this method of seating for each of the flagstones that you place. After you have placed the last flagstone with the cord bisecting the center, remove the cord.  

During daylight hours, using a watch that has been set to your local standard time, notice where the shadow of the pole falls at each hour. Place a flagstone at each shadow. When you are through, you will have an outdoor sundial.
If you are using a school yard or church yard that has a flagpole, you may be able to use the flagpole as the gnomen (central pole pronounced "no-men"), and you will place the flagstones about six feet away from the pole. In the summer, the shadows may not touch the flagstones, but you will be able to see the direction that the shadow is pointing.

If you have a garden, you might also like to make a miniature sundial for the garden. The process is the same, you simply use a shorter post and smaller markers that lie closer to the post. If you do miniaturize the outdoor sundial, make sure that the post is not at a level where people are likely to trip over it, or bump into it and get hit in the face.

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