Make your own ‘sundial’ clock with this fun Letsfixit guide.
Before there were digital clocks, circular clocks, or grandfather clocks, people told time by using the sun. While knowing where the sun is in the sky can give an approximate time, a sun dial can be used to tell the exact time if the measurements are done carefully. Here is a simple way to make a sun dial that you can use to tell time in your yard. It will only work on sunny days during the daytime, of course. This article does not give the directions for a totally scientific sun dial- it is meant to be an introduction to the concept. If you pay attention to your sun dial you will discover that the length of the shadow changes throughout the day and also throughout the year. The links at the end of this article will help you to understand why that happens. You can also use the links to help you find the solar noon for where you live so that you can use the sun’s shadows more accurately. Remember that if it is daylight savings time, the sun’s shadows will not match your clocks or the official time in your area.
Pound the large dowel into the center of an open area outside where nothing blocks the sun from shining on the stick. As the sun moves across the sky from the eastern horizon at dawn to the western horizon at sunset, the stick's shadow will move in a circular motion. It may take several sunny days for you to mark the ground so that just by looking at where the shadow falls, you will know what time it is.
Adjust how you interpret the time whenever the government changes the clocks if you live where there is daylight savings time during a portion of the year.