A sundial: where and why ?


In the redevelopment of the city as well as in the valorization of a private building a sundial is an culturally significant, very interesting and certainly original alternative. Sundials are versatile and multi-faceted astronomic instruments; besides the classic dial made on flat vertical wall, sundials are suitable to be placed, almost like large sculptures, in the center of squares or may be contextualized in a urban floor or pavement. Private houses, towns, tourist resorts could be so embellished and enriched ........... but we need Sun!


The first reflection about sundials is rooted in our history and in our culture; for centuries, sundials have had a practical function, in fact the positions of the Sun in the Sky during the year allowed our ancestors and farmers to carry out the weather forecast and adjust the pace of agricultural practices. Today sundials allow us to relate with the heaven motions , with solar time, to feel part of the Universe, in a dimension that by now is largely unknown; how many of us are in fact able to decode Sky signs? Reading a sundial it is not as simple as reading a watch, in fact it implies a small effort that it is immediately paid off by introducing us in a world of deep reflection on time passing. Sundials do not get our attention with chimes, they are elegant, discreet and quiet and ask that we become closer to them to enter tip-toe into their world. Finally, it is fun, but not trivial, compare the true solar time with the time of our watches.

A sundial at school

Sundials are also great allies of teachers. In fact, more and better than a book, sundials become a great tool for "thinking with hands" to help students understanding, to ask further questions or to "see" scientifically what happens around us. But the phenomena that have always led people to questions, to wonder and to formulate hypotheses or tell stories and myths that are part of our culture are not easy to understand, to "see" is necessary to devote time to watch, to refine students perceptions, observations, measurements, interpretations with a didactic work that can twist along an entire year. Having a sundial in the vicinity of a school always available, even when the school is closed, it will be an opportunity that children (and adults) will not miss.