I’ve had a bit of a sundial fixation since stumbling across the dueling Dodge City railroad time zone sundials during Kansas Mountain Time. I don’t think I’ll reach a point where I’m compelled to compile a list and go out of my way to visit them (as I do with lighthouses, fortifications and breweries), however I’d probably take a look if I found myself in the vicinity of a particularly remarkable specimen.
There are people infinitely more interested in sundials, and I certainly understand their passion for an esoteric topic considering my similar tendencies related to other objects. I found a couple of organizations where like-minded individuals can share their discoveries and promote their hobby, the North American Sundial Society (mentioned in the earlier article) and the British Sundial Society. There are other societies in different parts of the world although I didn’t have an opportunity to visit their sites. I also learned a new word: Gnomon. It has nothing to do with gnomes. It’s the part of a sundial that casts a shadow.
The world’s largest sundial is probably in Jaipur, India. I won’t focus much attention on it because Google Sightseeing already discussed it. Feel free to check it out if you’re interested. I’ll wait until you come back.
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I discovered a particularly elegant example in Redding, California. A bridge shaped in the manner of a sundial spans the Sacramento River, joining the north and south campuses of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park. The operative word is "shaped" like a sundial since it’s not actually functional. As the North American Sundial Society explains,
When is a bridge not a bridge? When it’s almost a sundial. The 217 foot high suspension span called Sundial Bridge wants to be a sundial, and has come very close. The suspension pylon is aligned true north, but unfortunately performs as an inaccurate gnomon with an inclination of 49 deg (for bridge functionality) rather than for the 40.6 deg latitude of the site.
If we moved the bridge due-north to make it functional, changing its location to 49° latitude without changing the longitude (map) it would serve a bridge between the United States and Canada at O Avenue, a spot mentioned previously in Big Zero. I love life’s little coincidences.
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Maybe I just like the name. Carefree Sundial sounds, well, so very carefree. The dial is found in a town of the same name outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Carefree is one of those upscale planned communities that sprouted from the desert for the benefit of snowbirds and retirees in the 1950′s. Residents live along Nonchalant Avenue, Never Mind Trail, Happy Hollow Drive, Lazy Lane, Dream Street, Ho Road, Hum Road, and Ho Hum Drive.
A shopping center within the development includes a large sundial centerpiece to accent a partial roundabout. From the North American Sundial Society, again:
A 90 ft. diameter horizontal dial with a large reflecting pool beneath the gnomon designed by John Yellott. The hour markers are 4 ft. diameter concrete circles. The dial is designed to show solar time corrected for the time zone offset. Thus the hour markers have been moved ahead of the solar time position. The hour lines are separated by alternating dark and light colored stones. The gnomon itself is 4 ft. wide, 62 ft. long and the tip is 35 ft. high. A pilot dial at a scale of 1/4 in. = 1ft. is at the South end of the large dial. It is constructed of gold-anodized aluminum with time lines at 10 minute intervals.
Actually Carefree seems a bit schizophrenic. Other roads within the community include Bloody Basin Road, Long Rifle Road and Sidewinder Road. Imagine living at the corner of Nonchalant and Bloody Basin (like this guy). It’s an odd juxtaposition.
Falcon Square Sundial
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I found this beauty listed as a Dial of the Month by the British Sundial Society. This is Falcon Square in Inverness, Scotland.
Four scaphe dials are located around the base of a 27-foot Mercat Cross in Falcon Square, Inverness. The obelisk is topped by a bronze unicorn, and decorated with four flying falcons. The dials are robustly designed by Emma Lavender, and show BST with declination lines marked by their zodiac symbols.
Got that? The small sundials are located on the base. I enjoyed the unicorn even more, though. It’s not everyday that one has an opportunity to view a unicorn high atop a column unless one lives in Scotland, where the royal unicorn is a symbol of the Scottish monarchy. We need more unicorn sundials.
Museum Puspa Iptek Bandung, Indonesia
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This single object explains why the vast preponderance of 12MC content focuses on English-speaking locations. It’s not because I don’t care about the rest of the world because I most certainly do, it’s because my comprehension of any language other than English falls terribly short of any level of usefulness. Google offered a very tantalizing option: thebiggestsundial.com only to lead me to a site written primarily in an Indonesian language. "The biggest sundial" seemed really specific and sounded like it was going to be English-friendly. I could recognize only a couple of words: "Sundial (Jam Matahari) adalah seperangkat alat yang digunakan sebagai petunjuk waktu semu lokal (local apparent time) dengan memanfaatkan MATAHARI yang menghasilkan bayang-bayang sebuah gnomon (batang atau lempengan yang bayang-bayangnya digunakan sebagai petunjuk waktu)."
Let me see: sundial… local apparent time… gnomon… and it went downhill from there.
Google Translate helped with basic meanings. It was still ridiculously difficult to uncover the actual location of the sundial. Eventually I found it but only because several visitors had posted on foursquare. The sundial was incorporated into the design of a building that houses the Puspa Iptek museum, a facility that focuses on science and technology.
Best Product I’ve Seen in a Long Time
I wish, I so wish I lived on the 51st latitude, north. Then I could purchase the Sundial Glass. I could combine my neurotic fixation on punctuality with my abundant appreciation of craft beers into one convenient package.
It’s an over-sized pint glass. It’s a sundial. It actually tells time! Unfortunately it was designed for Brighton, England although the website does explain that it will work anywhere along the same basic latitude. Kyle, the Basement Geographer, in British Columbia might be able to use it. Me? I’m out of luck until someone invents one for 39° north.
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted an "Odds and Ends" compilation. That’s where I combine lots of minor yet noteworthy topics that don’t provide enough material to stand on their own into one completely disjointed article. Frankly a lot of these miscellaneous topics have been going onto my Twelve Mile Circle Google+ site lately so I’ve not done one of these in awhile. Somehow I seem to be awash in them at the moment. I need to flush the whole pile all at once.
Truly, these morsels have nothing to do with each other. There’s no overarching theme. It’s completely random. Just sit back and take it all in stride.
Dust Bowl Marathon Series Update
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It’s on. I’ve purchased airline tickets to attend the Dust Bowl Marathon Series described previously in Mainly Marathons. I won’t be running of course, just attending. Airfares dropped so I figured I’d better grab tickets while the getting was good. I’ll definitely be in the vicinity of where Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico come together, and you’ll find me there from March 18-22, 2013. Geo-oddities on the short list include the Colorado-New Mexico-Oklahoma and Colorado-Kansas-Oklahoma tripoints, the Oklahoma highpoint, and the driving tour through Cimarron National Grassland. The Prairie Dog Village at the grassland is definitely on the agenda. I’ll probably ask again later as the date approaches, although anyone with an immediate "must see" oddity within easy striking distance of this route should feel free to suggest it now.
I continue to be fascinated by a comment from Mr. Burns. He noted that locals pronounce the Kansas town on the Dust Bowl list, Ulysses, as "You-liss-us" rather than "You-liss-eez." That makes logical sense when one considers that Ulysses is located in Grant County. Thus it’s Ulysses, Grant, and indeed it refers to the General and President of the same name. It’s one of those first name – surname symmetry locations mentioned in a previous article.
Shaped Like Indonesia
Remember my article about Pinwheel? It’s now called Findery. They had to change the name because of a trademark dispute. That’s an interesting tangent although somewhat immaterial. Getting back to the point, I noticed a post over there a few days ago about a place called Taman Mini Indonesia Indah.
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Taman Mini Indonesia Indah features Indonesian culture, and the most striking feature for geo-geeks such as ourselves is its centerpiece lake with islands shaped like Indonesia. If you have an account on Findery you can view the original note at Mini Indonesia. If you’d like an invitation to Findery, let me know because I still have a few left. If none of that really matters, then simply ponder the awesome shape and move on when you’re ready.
Gazetteers and Place Name Databases
Are you getting tired of weird place names from the same four countries on most 12MC articles, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States? I am. I noted my dilemma in Captains Less Prestigious earlier this week. I haven’t been able to locate publicly-available Internet place name databases for other nations. I’m hamstrung by my inability to search in languages other than English.
I’d love to create a compendium of national place name database links, or better yet use one that may already exist, in addition to the four databases I’ve already identified. Let me know if you are aware of any. I’ll gladly add them to my repertoire to increase the variety of international locations highlighted on 12MC.
You Know You’re a Geo-Geek When…
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I played a game of hide-and-seek with my friends when I was about 10 years old. I ran towards home base just steps ahead of a kid who was chasing me, and slammed my face into a metal pole. I’m reminded when I watch my own children that kids of that age don’t have any common sense, and my misadventure was a perfect case in point. Who in his right mind would select a metal swing-set as home base? I will note for the record that I was safe by the way, however I did manage to break a corner of a front tooth in the process. A quick trip to the dentist took care of that issue and it’s completely unnoticeable. Now every fifteen years or so the repair breaks-off and I have to get it replaced. That happened randomly on Monday.
I’ll answer the question for you now that we all understand the context. "You know you’re a geo-geek when… you look into the mirror and your first though is how much your damaged tooth resembles Nevada."
I captured the query of an anonymous reader. He or she wanted to know whether there were an islands split by time zones. I’d never pondered that before but I came up with a couple of quick examples off the top of my head. That didn’t satisfy me so I turned to a worldwide timezone map. Sure enough I came up with a few more instances. I can’t guarantee that I’ve compiled the definitive and complete list but it’s a good start. These are the obvious ones so please let me know if you find others.
Various Canadian Islands and Greenland
Canada has a whole set of islands in its northern reaches with time zone splits, theoretically. I put that disclaimer in place because the time zone concept is rather complicated in remote and borderland areas of Canada, with the "official" time zone frequently ignored. The whole wacky situation is described in Canadian Geographic, in "It’s about TIME."
We are a country of chronic lawbreakers. From east to west, Canada is neatly divided into six time zones. But many Canadians choose to make their own time and ignore the time zone boundaries. And the rule that clocks spring forward on the first Sunday in April and fall back on the last Sunday in October? In some parts of Canada, the times are never a-changin’: we all know that Saskatchewan doesn’t use daylight savings, but other pockets of the country don’t bother with it either. And while Alberta’s time-abiding citizens strictly follow Mountain Time – violators can be slapped with a $25 fine.
Yes, there are a number of Canadian islands that happen to be split by time zones on paper but I’m not sure these have much practical meaning. People in those areas will seemingly follow whatever time appears convenient.
Greenland, the world’s largest island, has four time zones. The vast preponderance of Greenland follows Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)-3. A small area located in the far northwest including the United States’ Thule Air Base observes UTC-4. Maybe that’s to make it closer in time to the eastern United States? There are also two small areas of eastern Greenland that follow UTC-1 and UTC+0 respectively. I have absolutely no idea why no portion of Greenland follows UTC-2. It seems odd. Maybe someone in the readership knows the answer.
Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego
Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego is the largest island in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. This island was a topic of discussion on one of my recent articles, "Ushuaia". The time zone split follows the border between Argentina (UTC-3) and Chile (UTC-4) just like the remainder of the border between these two nations.
Borneo and New Guinea
Borneo has been split by two time zones associated with Malaysia (UTC+8) and Indonesia (UTC+7). Brunei — including it’s odd exclave — also shares a small portion Borneo but it’s just along for the ride in UTC+8.
Indonesia stretches far enough to require three time zones. It makes a second appearance on the list of islands split by time zones on New Guinea. Here it’s UTC+9 with the portion forming Papua New Guinea located in UTC+10.
I found one more example on Hispaniola which is shared by the Dominican Republic (UTC-4) and Haiti (UTC-5).
I was able to find six examples of islands split by time zone, perhaps more if one counts each of the Canadian instances separately, in just a few minutes of searching. Canada and Greenland represented instances within a single country. The other instances followed international borders.