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  • Writer's pictureEvan Boxer-Cook

Macrocosm in the Microcosm

Updated: Oct 5, 2023

The celestial sphere in armillary dials


Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of the finest armillary sundials in the country, located at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.


Even from a great distance away, it was apparent that the dial dominated the field it was placed in.



In addition to indicating the time and where to get a drink of Gatorade, the dial presented a impressive model of the celestial sphere, incorporating rings for the equator, ecliptic, arctic circles, and meridian.



This dial also presented an opportunity. Holding up my Kala equatorial ring dial would demonstrate how the two agree precisely; each containing the other while simultaneously mirroring the macrocosm surrounding them both.



It is this property of equatorial dials–and even more so armillary dials–that I find most appealing. Because they so intuitively present the world, observing their shadows and rings can illuminate one's understanding of the world's movements, even without a nuanced understanding of gnomonics.



Evan Boxer-Cook

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