As you look to the end 2016, you might think of New Years Eve celebrations, including the iconic Times Square Ball, "probably the greatest single moment of public timekeeping in the world." Digging in, you'll find that it's really just a glorified time ball, an antiquated tool for sea-farers to set their chronometers and discern their longitude by means of celestial navigation. The first time ball went into use 1829, pretty late in the time-keeping game, so let's re-fill the ol' water clock and take this way back. [more inside]
Van Cleef & Arpels, purveyors of super fine jewelry, have created the Midnight Planetarium, which holds part of the solar system on your wrist:
This new Poetic Complication timepiece provides a miniature representation of the movement of six planets around the sun and their position at any given time. Earth and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are set in motion thanks to a self-winding mechanical movement of great complexity: equipped with an exclusive module developed in partnership with the Maison Christiaan van der Klaauw, it contains 396 separate parts. The movement of each planet is true to its genuine length of orbit: it will take Saturn over 29 years to make a complete circuit of the dial, while Jupiter will take almost 12 years, Mars 687 days, Earth 365 days, Venus 224 days and Mercury 88 days.[more inside]
Saturday August 27 Bill Nye dedicated a solar noon clock he designed. The clock is embedded in the facade of Rhodes Hall. At Solar Noon, when the Sun culminates, that is, reaches its highest point in the sky, the sun-shaped feature will light up. It is the marrying of mechanical and electrical engineering with astronomy. What could be better?
The Internet's most comprehensive examination of the watches worn by Fox Mulder on TV's 'The X-Files'. [more inside]
Marvin Schneider, New York City's Official Clock Master is responsible for keeping the giant public clocks of the five boroughs running smoothly; the beautiful photo essay with an accompanying interview is not to be missed for fans of giant gears & sprockets.
The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has some excellent online collections related to maritime history and technology, including telescopes, marine chronometers, sundials, and a whole lot more. Some stuff I've been looking at: John Harrison's chronometers (described in Dava Sobel's book Longitude), polyhedral sundials, and pocket globes.
At 7 PM EST today, 80 cesium-based atomic clocks around the world will stop for precisely one second, to take into account the gradual slowing of the Earth's axial rotation.
24:39 NASA is running their Spirit Martian explorer program on Martian solar time. With the project day running 39 minutes longer than a real day, engineers found they faced difficulties adjusting to this virtual timezone. Their solution was nearly as old as timekeeping itself.