How to make a Sundial Clock?
Using our simple template, some tape, and a pencil, you can easily make a sundial good enough to keep track of the daytime hours.
Learning how to make a sundial provides you with an amazingly simple yet effective devices. They range from sticks planted in the ground to precision-machined marvels costing thousands of dollars. The DIY sundial design shown here can be constructed in minutes from materials lying around your house, but it’s surprisingly accurate. Perfect for beginner astronomers to get started, a sundial makes a great introduction to learning about the wonders of our universe - and they're pretty cool!
Supplies For Sundial Making
You're just 15 minutes away from having a working DIY sundial! Here's what you need to create it:
How to Make A Sundial
Step 1: Cut and fold the printout according to directions printed on it. (You might want two copies so that you can work with one while reading the directions on the other.) The only hard part is pushing the pencil point through the center of the small circle. It helps to twirl the pencil as you push.
Step 2: When you’re done, the pencil should be perpendicular to the sundial’s face (not to the base). If the pencil wants to topple over, try taping the whole thing to another piece of paper or (better) to a sheet of cardboard. Mounting the sundial on cardboard also makes it easier to carry around. Cereal boxes are a great source of free cardboard.
Step 3: Now turn the sundial so that the pencil points due north (or due south if you live in the Southern Hemisphere). You can use a compass or a map to determine the proper direction, or you can just orient the sundial so that it agrees with your local time. (Don't forget to subtract one hour from clock time if you’re on daylight-saving time.)
That's it! Now you can watch the shadow on the sundial change as the Sun moves from east to west over the course of the day.
How Equatorial Sundials Work
You've probably seen lots of horizontal sundials, which have a readout face parallel to the ground. It's the design that’s often found in garden stores. They're easy to use — but tricky to design and build.
This design for learning how to make a sundial is called an equatorial sundial because the face with the numbers is parallel to Earth’s equator. Conceptually, it’s the simplest design.
However, it suffers from one practical disadvantage: Depending on the season, the pencil’s shadow might fall either on the top or the bottom of the readout face. (It’s easiest to use at midwinter and midsummer, and hardest near the equinoxes around March 20th and September 23rd.) Fortunately, because the face is made of translucent paper, it’s easy to see the shadow even when it’s on the underside. (Reading off the solar time would be extremely awkward if the face were made of metal!)
To see how this sundial works, imagine first that you lived at the North Pole or South Pole. In that case, a stick planted upright in the ground would form both a horizontal and an equatorial sundial — the two designs being identical at those locations.