Point In Time

Janskerkhof Sundial
If you’re ever wandering through Janskerkhof and want to know what time it is, there’s a fun way of checking. Built in 1983, there is an analemmatic sundial built by De Zonnewijzerkring, a sundial society.

Analemmatic Sundial

In the center is a strip with each month marked out. Circled around it are hour markers, with seasonal zodiac signs placed around it, as well. In order to tell the time, you simple stand on the center line, next to the current month marker and hope the sun is out. If it is, your own body will then cast a shadow toward the appropriate hour. Of course, with daylight savings time, it’s off by one hour in the summer.

If you’re there and forget how it works, there’s a plaque inside the sundial that has instructions.
Sundial Instructions

To give you an example of how it works, here’s a photo of Pippo demonstrating. I have a photo of G demonstrating how it works, but it’s just funnier to see a dog demonstrating.
Sundial Pippo

Admittedly, he was sitting on August, but his head was over July, so his shadow was pointing toward 11. Taking into account the fact that it’s summer, that means the time was 10 a.m., which it was!

Of course, being the Netherlands, with rapidly disappearing sun, you might have to wait a bit to actually be able to tell time. If it’s a grey day, you’re better off just walking a short distance to see the time on the Domtoren’s clock. I was worried I wasn’t going to get my shot this morning. As soon as I got Pippo into place, the sun disappeared. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for it to reappear. The weather was on our side, for once!
Assume the Position

For an interesting aerial view of the clock, as well as a view of the stone markings of where parts of the Janskerk used to be, you should visit the Zonnewijzerkring website.

I ♥ Utrecht

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5 thoughts on “Point In Time

  1. I’ve seen it there many times, but never tried to tell the time with it. It’s a shame that in a few months we’ll all be plunged into almost perpetual darkness (or so it can feel sometimes with those dark winter mornings and evenings) and wander around aimlessly on Janskerkhof unable to tell the time 🙂

    • I had no idea what it was until a couple of weeks ago, despite having walked over it more times than I can count. I’m curious to see the oldest sundial in Utrecht, which I gather is on the Jacobikerk and dates back to the 1400s. I should go while there’s still a chance of seeing it work. 😉

  2. Michael and Nikki, considering how many times I’ve been past the sundial recently, trying to get good shots for this post, I’m particularly grateful that Pippo played along!

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