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April 05, 2007

The world's biggest sundial

photograph of the sundial at Mont Saint Michel

You only need three things to make a working sundial... the sun of course, some sort of pointer (technically called a gnomon) that casts a shadow, and some sort of dial upon which the shadow falls. Because they are so simple to create, and have been around so long, it's really rare for a sun-dial related record to be broken.

But that's just what happened when a French artist/scientist named Laurent Maget turned the entire island of Mont Saint Michel into a giant sundial. Maget used the spire of the island's famous monastery as the gnomon, and he had 600 one-meter reflective plates forming indicators placed in the tidal flats surrounding the island. (In a nice pacifist touch the French army helped place the panels). The spire cast a shadow as long as three-quarters of a mile. At that size you can actually see the sun's shadow moving as the minutes tick by.

The panels stayed up for several weeks and then were then removed, but you can see a video of the sundial in action.

By the way, if you're a fanatical fan of sundials, why not considering joining the North American Sundial Society? They have a geeky cool newsletter, an annual conference, and a website full of sundial facts.

(Thanks moonriver).


Posted by Chris Spurgeon at April 5, 2007 07:54 PM