2d Nocturnal Celestial Stardial TJT1/6

Introduction: 2d Nocturnal Celestial Stardial TJT1/6

Despite centuries of improvements in Sundial design, they are not reliable time-tellers at night. Nocturnal beasts such as wombats, skunks and Angelina Jolie would despair were it not for... duh-duh-duh-duh-dummm...

The Nocturnal Celestial Stardial! This long-forgotten instrument aided a few lucky navigators and charmed romantics of the Renaissance. Earliest references include Cosmographicus Liber in 1530, Arte de Navegar, in 1551, and Horologiographia, The Art Of Dialling in 1626. 'Twas rare then as now.  The Nocturnal Celestial Stardial is also called a stardial, a nocturnal, a "horologium nocturnum" (time instrument for night), or nocturlabe.

Time-Journey Tool 1 of 6, it needn't even be configured to longitude and latitude like a sundial.

Recommended Materials:

 an Eyelet or Rivet (Eyelet kits may be purchased in craft or fabric stores, even Sears. Paper fasteners will not work because a hole is needed at the center of the instrument for sighting the North Star.

 Printer with Paper or Cardstock

 Scissors or X-Acto knife

 Hammer and eyelet kit or dowel rod

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Step 1: Choose Color Scheme

Choose a PDF to print. I've provided four color schemes from which to choose. Print it.

The outer disc is marked with the months as well as an indicator for each of the 365 days of the year. The inner disc is marked with hours and 5-minute increments. The pointer rotates on the same center axis as the discs. The center axis has a sight hole through which the North Star Polaris can be aligned.

In the northern hemisphere, all stars will appear to rotate about the North Star, aka Polaris. The North Star is very close to the north celestial pole, but about 434 light years away.

The time can be read on my Nocturnal Stardial from any of three reference constellations: Big Dipper (Ursa Major), the Little Dipper (Ursa Minor), or Cassiopeia.

Step 2: Chop Chop!

Chop Chop! it means be quick; hurry up. It's a South-China-Sea Pidgin English version of the Chinese term k'wâi-k'wâi from the early 19th century.

Grab some scissors or an X-Acto knife and cut out the three shapes in the PDF document printed in the previous step. Cut around the perimeter of each of the 3 pieces. Also cut the 3 center holes.

Hint: if you have access to a method of paper lamination, consider it, particularly if you intend to take to sea.

Step 3: Stack 'em!

Stack the 3 pieces as shown here.

Step 4: Insert Eyelet

Put the eyelet in the center hole. 

Incidentally, eyelets, rivets, and grommets are all pretty much the same thing. Crafts stores like Michaels, AC Moore or Overstock.com are good places to get an eyelet kit for $5-20 dollars. If you're handy you could probably buy 100 or more eyelets for $3. bucks and use a hammer and a piece of wood or metal rod.

Step 5: Smack It

Hold the punch over the eyelet and give it a steady smack with the hammer and you're done.

Tap down the edges of the fastener with the hammer so that they become flattened to the cardstock.

Step 6: How to Use the Nocturnal Celestial Stardial

How to use the Nocturnal Celestial Stardial:

1.) Find one of the 3 reference constellations, the larger reference star of it in particular.
2.) Align the appropriate constellation dial (Dial B) to the day's date.
3.) Hold instrument in a vertical position whilst facing north.
4.) Sight Polaris, the North Star, through the hole in the center of the instrument.
5.) Rotate the long arm (Dial A) to point to the reference constellation.
6.) The time units on Dial B are in 5-minute increments. The flat edge of Dial B will show the time increment to the nearest 5 minutes.

Note: for greater accuracy one could point directly to specific stars within the chosen constellation:

  Schedar within Cassiopeia
  Kochab within Ursa Minor (the Little Dipper)
  The Pointers within Ursa Major (the Big Dipper)

Step 7: Make More!

Now that you know how to do it, and that it works, make some more!

A kid with some scissors can make a workable model. This makes a great family or class project.

note: these illustrations show meticulous cutting around the outer perimeter. But the fact is if you pretty much cut a circle, it'll work fine.

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    3 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I've never heard of such a thing, this is very cool thanks for sharing!


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    yeah poofrabbit, when I first heard of them I knew I needed one too. That's why I had to make it! It's amazing that it really works.

    It's funny that even if you know the stars rise and fall each night you never think you can put them to such good use.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    You are so right! I think that as we gain technology we forget how much stays constant in our world and how simple tools can still be used and be completely effective.