Sun clocks


The Sun is like a clock.

Sun and sundial (click for animation)

Hours correspond to the Sun’s motion.

24-hour clock (for animation click here)

This 24-hour clock is a representation of looking south. The sun rises on the left and sets on the right. At noon the sun and the clock appear straight up.

But we’re accustomed to maps that have east on the right, which corresponds to looking north so the sun rises on the right and sets on the left.

Are clockwise clocks backwards?

It seems that automated clock numbering was based on sundials. The article here notes that the shadow on a vertical sundial moves clockwise on horizontal and north-facing sundials.

Counter-clockwise 12-hour clock

To match the motion of the sun with east on the right and west on the left would require a clock that is a 24-hour clock and moves counter-clockwise.

Click here to see a 24-hour counter-clockwise clock, Florence Cathedral.