Sundials Australia our book

'...Overall, this clearly presented and beautifully illustrated sundial publication is almost certainly destined to become the gnomonic authority to which all other books will refer...'  

                        Monica Oliphant in 'Solar Progress'

horizontal sundial design

With our research scientist training and experience we are interested in the total background of whatever we are studying, so before making our first sundial in 1977 we devoured every available sundial book. We were disappointed at the confusing presentation of the 'classic' sundial texts, which used geometry and log tables and were based solely on the Northern Hemisphere. As we delved further into gnomonics (the study of sundials) our fascination intensified and we resolved to write something better which would clearly and simply explain the basic principles of sundial design for any place on Earth but especially taking into account sundials for the Southern Hemisphere.

In 1994 we produced the First Edition of our book 'Sundials Australia' containing 64 pages. This was expanded to the current 113 page Second Edition in 1996. It has been reprinted many times.


The contents include some fascinating snippets of history, and relevant facts about the Earth, the Sun and the stars. It has very clearly presented descriptions of the nine basic types of sundial. High quality black and white photographs and drawings of the sundial types accompany the text throughout.

The relationship between sundial and clock time is presented in detail and the equation of time is accurately defined and used with respect to the indication of correct local time.

Old fashioned, geometrical construction techniques for ‘laying out’ sundials have been totally discarded. Formulae are concisely and clearly listed for calculating the hour line divisions (and smaller subdivisions as required) for any type of sundial. A pocket calculator or computer is ideal for these calculations.

A unique section in our book devotes considerable effort in discussing the blackness and sharpness of shadows.

Simple mathematical models of shadow formation have been derived and experimental confirmation of their validity has been obtained. Conclusions arising from this totally new and pioneering study of shadows should lead to future sundials generally having better time-telling characteristics than in the past.

The book concludes with a collection of sundial mottoes, a dictionary of sundial terms, a comprehensive list of references and a well researched and useful author and subject index. 

horizontal sundial design

Extract from the book review by Charles Aked in the Bulletin of the British Sundial Society, June 1996 


'As an introduction to the art of dialling for someone without previous knowledge, the book is hard to beat. There is enough information clearly given in the contents to allow anyone to reach an adequate standard to appreciate the majority of simple sundials. It is a competent work by two people who are practitioners of the art and know what they are talking about. It is worthy of a place on the bookshelf of everyone with an interest in dials and dialling. Of course it must be remembered that the book is written for those in the Southern Hemisphere, but it is a bit of fun for northern hemisphereians to stand on their heads occasionally.


The greatest change in the new edition is the inclusion of Section IX on the blackness and sharpness of shadows, usually ignored in dialling treatises. This is a real contribution to the scientific approach to sundials, clearly outlining the limits for accuracy of reading solar time from a projected shadow usually totally ignored and yet having greater effect than the small errors of refraction and orientation that the majority of diallists are so concerned about. The majority of diallists make the assumption that the larger the dial, the more accurately it can be read, but this is fallacious. This section also highlights errors made by designers of sundials who have ignored the outlined restrictions.'


Extract from the review by Monica Oliphant in ‘Solar Progress’, The Journal of The Australian and New Zealand Solar Energy Society, April-June 1996


'. . . Overall, this clearly presented and beautifully illustrated sundial publication is almost certainly destined to become the gnomonic authority to which all other books will refer. . .'

OUR BOOK  'Sundials Australia'     ISBN 0 646 27581 X

A4 format: 113 pages, 96 photographs, 101 line drawings

Clear plastic covers with plasticised spiral wire binding


Price $20 plus $5 postage in Australia.

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sundials Australia our book

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