The Williamsburg Library Armillary Sundial
The armillary (which means hoops) sundial at the Williamsburg Library was crafted in 2002 by Willy Ferguson, Ferguson Metal Fabrication in Staunton, Va. It resembles a miniature Earth made from bands of welded carbon steel. This sundial’s gnomon (shadow arm) is the rod that bisects the sphere. The gnomon represents the earth’s axis, and the other bands include representation of the equator and celestial horizon.
The sculptor of the three Williamsburg pieces, Willy Ferguson, was born in 1949, to a Sicilian mother and staunch Scot father. A native of Edinburgh, Scotland, the family moved to the United States when he was four. As a young man, Mr. Ferguson felt a desire to create. He found his outlet in metal sculpture. His work has been included in Time-Life publications and received numerous awards.
How to Tell Time with this Sundial
Time on the sundial is read by looking at where the gnomon shadow is cast. This shadow will be the middle, thicker shadow of the three shadow lines, which can be seen on the largest hoop (referred to as the gnomon shadow hoop). The shadow will only be cast on this hoop.
12 noon is at the intersection of the gnomon shadow hoop and the hoop that crosses it at the bottom of the sundial. On the gnomon shadow hoop, to one side of the intersection is a.m. To the other side of the intersecting hoops is p.m. Although hours are not marked off on this sundial, you can estimate the time of day by thinking of the gnomon shadow hoop as the clock face and the shadow as the hour hand of that clock.
The Hanging Books and sundial sculptures at the Williamsburg Library were funded through private support from Louisa France and commissioned by the Williamsburg Regional Library Foundation. The Open Book sculpture was donated by Willy and Gail Ferguson.