Museo Galileo
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Virtual Museum
Section of Room II
 Measuring Time by Day: Sundials

The first chronometric instruments were based on the changing direction and length of shadows cast by objects exposed to sunlight. The shadow of an indicator (called style or gnomon) falling on a set of hour lines showed the time. Alternatively, the Sun's height above the horizon could be measured directly. Thanks to the mastery of projective geometry, by the 16th century instrument makers were producing many different kinds of sundials - instruments that could be suspended from a hook, placed on shelves or mounted on walls, as well as pocket instruments. Some of these are still in use today.

Objects
Astronomical ring

Astronomical ring

Inv. 2453
Johannes Motter [attr.], Flemish, ca. 1550

Astronomical ring

Astronomical ring

Inv. 2451
Maker unknown, German?, mid-17th cent.

Astronomical ring

Astronomical ring

Inv. 2452
Maker unknown, mid-17th cent.

Diptych dial

Diptych dial

Inv. 2464
Maker unknown, French or Italian, late 16th cent. - early 17th cent.

Diptych dial

Diptych dial

Inv. 2490
Maker unknown, German, late 17th cent. - early 18th cent.

Diptych dial

Diptych dial

Inv. 2489
Maker unknown, French, 1573

Diptych dial

Diptych dial

Inv. 2469
Maker unknown, German, mid-17th cent.

Diptych dial

Diptych dial

Inv. 2471
Hans Tucher, German, second half 16th cent.

Diptych dial

Diptych dial

Inv. 3173
Maker unknown, Nuremberg, 1767

Equinoctial dial

Equinoctial dial

Inv. 2479
Thomas Haye, Paris, ca. 1705

Horary quadrant

Horary quadrant

Inv. 1306
Joseph Pinam, Italian, 17th cent.

Horizontal cylinder dial

Horizontal cylinder dial

Inv. 2486
Maker unknown, Italian, 17th cent.

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 2475
Nicolas Bion, Paris, ca. 1710

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 3189
Giovan Battista Magnelli, Florence, 1692

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 3702
Maker unknown, Italian, first half 17th cent.

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 122
Giovan Battista Asini, Italian, 1722

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 141
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 3191
Maker unknown, Italian, ca. 1700

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 134
Maker unknown, French or Italian, 17th cent.

Horizontal dial

Horizontal dial

Inv. 2468
Maker unknown, German or Dutch, 17th- early 18th cent.

Horizontal dial (incomplete)

Horizontal dial (incomplete)

Inv. 2466
Maker unknown, Dutch?, 18th cent.

Navicula de Venetiis

Navicula de Venetiis

Inv. 3163
Maker unknown, English, 15th cent.

"Noon cannon"

"Noon cannon"

Inv. 3575
Rousseau, French, early 19th cent.

Polyhedral dial

Polyhedral dial

Inv. 126
David Beringer, G.P. Seyfried, Nuremberg, between 1777 and 1821

Polyhedral dial

Polyhedral dial

Inv. 2495
Maker unknown, 17th cent.

Polyhedral dial

Polyhedral dial

Inv. 2477
Maker unknown, German, late 16th cent.

Quadrans vetus

Quadrans vetus

Inv. 662
Maker unknown, German?, late 14th cent. - early 15th cent.

Scaphe dial

Scaphe dial

Inv. 2533
Maker unknown, Italian, 17th cent.

Vertical cylinder dial

Vertical cylinder dial

Inv. 127, 3252
Paolo Contarini, Noto (Sicily), 1844

Vertical dial

Vertical dial

Inv. 2534
Maker unknown, German, ca. 1600

Context