Telling the Time by the Sun – CANCELLED

You are here

Friday, 3 April 2020 - 12:00pm
The armillary sphere sundial in the ANBG
The armillary sphere sundial in the ANBG

We regret that this event has been cancelled, due to the coronavirus prevention measures and their impact on the organisation of this event.

Places are limited, so secure your place for this event being held on 3 April 2020. This joint event by Friends of the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the Australian Garden History Society will celebrate several significant anniversaries in 2020: 50 years for the ANBG, 30 years for the ANBG Friends and 40 years for the AGHS. It will also be 20 years since the ANBG sundial was commissioned and gifted to the Gardens by the ANBG Friends.

Using the apparent movement of the sun to mark the passage of time goes back to antiquity, with people from many different cultures creating devices that use a light spot or a shadow to record time. Before clocks were invented, sundials were used in public places and in the grounds of significant buildings to mark the hours of the day. By the 19th century sundials were largely ornamental, and today many gardens large and small feature a sundial.

Canberra is fortunate to have a number of publicly accessible sundials; several of them devised by the Adelaide-based physicists Marg Folkard and John Ward of Sundials Australia.

On Friday 3 April 2020 we have an opportunity to hear Marg talk about the history and science of sundials, as well as the exacting art of creating them. She will focus in particular on two sundials – the armillary sphere in the ANBG and the analemmatic or human sundial at Mt. Stromlo. She will also refer to others that her firm has created across Australia and beyond.

The Sundials Afternoon will start with registration in the ANBG Theatrette from 1-1.30pm followed by Marg’s presentation. After this, we will inspect the sundial near the rockery in the ANBG, enjoy afternoon tea together, and then drive to Mt Stromlo to tell the time by our own shadows in the late afternoon light. This will be a self-drive event and we anticipate it finishing by 5.15pm at the latest.

Bookings are essential – go to

Places are limited to 80 people at a cost of $15 for Members of the ANBG Friends and AGHS, $20 for others (plus a ticket fee of 50 cents for all).


  ANBG – Lynden Ayliffe or ring 0430 463 413

  AGHS – Nancy Clarke or ring 0423 690 626