A living, glowing Solar Spectrum map of the entire astronomical year, projected into a unique architectural space.
Using a skylight, custom prisms, and hundreds of site-specific astronomical calculations, Peter Erskine's unique “Rainbow Sundial Calendar,” transforms ordinary Sunlight and the rotation of the Earth into a radiant, architecturally scaled map of the solar year – inside a building! Powered by the rotation of the Earth, a giant moving cross of solar spectrum color tells the astronomical time and date – for that specific location on the planet. The curving horizontal lines inlaid into the walls and floor indicate the path of the Sun during the months, equinoxes and solstices. The vertical lines show the hours and minutes. Standing inside this living cosmic clock, you can actually “see” the Earth turning under your feet.
RAINBOW SUNDIAL CALENDAR, 1995
Materials: Sunlight, skylight, laser-cut, flat prisms, and Brass Noon Line Calendar inlaid into library floor.
RAINBOW SUNDIAL CALENDAR is a Solar Powered Art, Science and Educational installation created for Porter Ranch Branch Library. Erskine has also created RAINBOW SUNDIAL CALENDARS in Northern California, Ireland and Germany. The moving solar Spectrum cross surrounds a time telling disk of white Sunlight that is projected through an oculus hole in the skylight. As the Earth turns, the cross of color flows across the library floor. The “solar disk” crosses the brass “noon line” at the exact moment of solar noon – which can vary from clock time by as much as 15 minutes a day. A wall plaque, comprehensible for 4th grade and above, provides a graphic and verbal explanation.
RAINBOW SUNDIAL CALENDAR
As a solar artist I have always been hugely fascinated by sundials and especially the graphic design of the solar year as is projected into a space. But I always thought those gray shadows telling the time were deadly boring so I invented a new way to bring the whole sundial into a building and project the time and date with a giant cross of spectrum light. The only moving part of this giant clock is the earth moving rotating on her axis. This is a model for the rainbow sundial calendar of the sun, moon and stars exhibition in an old factor in Essen, Germany. And here are some actual shots of the finished installation. The curving horizontal lines show the Equinoxes and the Solstices and the vertical lines indicate the hours and the minutes.
I created a huge environmental rainbow sundial calendar at the Ecos Environmental Centre in Northern Ireland. Here the calendar was 50 feet high and 30 feet wide. For me these projects are an enticing overlay of astronomy, physics, art, culture and even education and you know every room on the planet has its potential for its own unique rainbow sundial calendar because of its location so I’ll never run out of material for these projects.