Natural Clock

A clock that tells you the time of day by simulating the Sun's movement across the sky.

A day is approximately the period of time during which the Earth completes one rotation around its axis; And from the point of view of us on Earth, a day is the period of time during which the Sun completes one orbit “around us” in the sky. It’s the time between two Sunsets, two Sunrises, or two Noons; and this definition is universal.

Sun Path Over Celestial Sphere

Sun's apparent circular movement around the viewer in the sky. Part of this circular movement happens above the horizon which is the top arc of Sun's path, which changes with the seasons over the year.

[image source: physics.weber.edu]​

However, in modern times, our day is not measured off of a celestial event such as Sunrise or Solar noon, which means that 12 o’clock at noon does not necessarily indicate that the Sun is at its highest point in the sky. In other words, our civil clock runs independently of nature’s clock.

Most people living in dense cities like NYC don’t have access to a sun-facing window and especially since the Covid-19 pandemic we spend most of our time indoors disconnected from the Sun and our day passing by.

“Natural Clock” is a way to bring back a bit of that sense of natural awareness of the day/night cycle into our lives. 

Natural Clock Overlays.jpg

The single hand of the clock indicates the position of the Sun along its circular path which takes roughly 24 hours to complete one rotation. The color LED lights around the face of the clock divide the circle into arcs representing Daytime and Nighttime, as well as indicating Sunrise and Sunset Horizon points. The top point of the clock represents Solar “High” Noon, and the bottom represents Solar Midnight. The LEDs dynamically shift their arrangement to adjust for seasonal shifts in daylight across the year or across different latitudes.


Materials:

Wood, Acrylic, Arduino, Stepper Motor, Neopixel LEDs