The British Sundial Society

Promoting the Art and Science of Gnomonics since 1989


Frank King first tried to observe a Transit of Mercury in November 1960 but his equipment wasn’t up to the job. Somewhat late in the day, he had a second attempt on Monday 11 November 2019. He has sent in this photograph – click to see a larger version.

You can see part of an image of the sun projected onto a screen by a telescope at the University of Cambridge Institute of Asronomy. Mercury can be seen as a tiny, but obvious, dot. The dark wispy features are clouds. By careful study of the black shape on the left, you will see a silhouette of part of Frank’s mobile telephone supported by his well-manicured right thumb.

Frank explains that he was unable to get a decent photograph without standing between the telescope and the screen.

A new issue of the Fixed Dial Register has been published, designed for sale to the general public. 4,500 dials in the British Isles are included, with a full description and one large photograph per dial and up to three additional smaller photos. Coordinates can be copied and pasted directly into mapping apps like Google Maps or Streetmap. The register is in the form of a pdf file, indexed and book-marked by county. Click here to see a couple of sample pages.

The register costs £15 and is available from sales@sundialsoc.org.uk, on DVD or USB Memory Stick. Christmas is coming!

BSS member David Le Comte has written an article for the Guernsey Press describing some of the many different sundials to be found there, from the 15th century to modern times including the Liberation Monument commemorating events of 9th May 1945.

The article is available here.

PLEASE NOTE:
This event is being held on the THIRD Saturday of September this year, rather than on the usual fourth Saturday of September.

We are again meeting at Sutton Hall, Stockcross, Newbury RG20 8LN (directions below).

Exhibits – Talks – Bookstall

Beautiful country village setting. Plenty of free parking. Modernised village hall with ample space, tables and chairs for all your interesting displays (indoors and outside) of sundials, models, photos etc. Please include a card with your name on any displays.

Please bring something along:

  • Dials: finished, or in progress
  • Pictures
  • Paraphernalia

Speakers welcome – 10-minute talks / demos. Please e-mail David Pawley with suggestions for talks, ideally before mid-September 2019 if possible.

Read More

There has been considerable media interest following Frank’s observations about decreasing understanding of sundials, the latest being an item about dials in Cambridge from the local BBC radio station. Listen to it here, the item starts at about 54m 30s and runs for about 4 minutes.

There’s also a more extensive article in The Daily Mail which at least picks up the concern over a decline in understanding of geometrical concepts – with all this publicity, perhaps things will change!

UPDATED 28th February: media interest continues, apparently unabated. There is further coverage at Anglia Regional News. Spotting the possibly new type of sundial is left as an exercise for the viewer!

In a recent item on the BBC News website the Society’s Chairman talks about the challenges of getting young people interested in sundials and his own passion for timekeeping in any form. Read the article to see why letter carver Lida Cardozo describes Frank as an alchemist and we also offer a helpful refresher on spherical triangles!

Updated 19th Feb: this story has been picked up by The Telegraph, highlighting the decline in interest in sundials among young people despite there being other applications for such mathematical insight including spaceships and driverless cars. Suggestions as to how to encourage a wider appreciation and understanding of sundials, particularly among young people. are welcome.