Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Fermilab's Analemmatic Sundial

There's a sundial on the grounds of the Lederman Science Center at Fermilab. Not a (literal) garden-variety sundial, but an analemmatic sundial, which in this case is a horseshoe-shaped structure large enough to stand on. When the sun is out, you stand in the right place on the structure and your shadow will point to one of a semicircle of stones in the ground, telling you (roughly) the non-daylight savings time hour.

The following is my shadow, pointing to the 3 pm stone -- the third stone to the right of a stone marked "12." I was there with Ann on the afternoon of March 24, 2012. According to the clock in my cell phone, the only timepiece I carry around, the time was 4 pm, but of course that was a daylight savings time reading. I was glad to see that the shadow of my head exactly touched the stone.

Ann is pictured here standing on one of the squares on top of the structure: same one that I did, MARCH. There are 12 squares. Each has the name of one of the months carved on it. Stand on the correct month and you'll get the correct hour, provided the sun in shinning and you account for the change in the clocks.

Waymarking tells me that the sundial is at N 41° 50.363 W 088° 16.013. The formal name of Fermilab is the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which is easy to visit if you happen to be in Batavia, Illinois. We didn't arrive in time to go inside the Lederman Science Center, but we did manage to see the sundial and a few other things, more about which tomorrow.

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