The van der Heide sundial
Located in front of the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, our sundial is the work of Dutch artist Herman J. van der Heide (1919-1998). It was offered to the City of Montréal in 1967 by the citizens of Rotterdam, Netherlands, for the 325th anniversary of the founding of Montréal.
The base of the sundial is 2.8 meters high, its dial face has a diameter of 2.68 meters, and its style is 2.8 meters high. Made of steel and aluminum, it weighs 2.6 metric tons.
The oldest clock
The sundial is one of the first objects designed to measure time using the Sun’s position in the sky. It consists of a base, a plane known as a dial face, which is parallel to the equator, and a style that is perpendicular to the dial face.
Hour lines are drawn onto the dial face, and the shadow cast by the style shows the solar time. Here, the shadow cast by the style on the hour lines of the dial face indicates Eastern Standard Time.
Our sundial is a variation of the equatorial sundial. Its particularity? It is inclined 15 degrees in comparison to the usual orientation.
The monument to Copernicus
Cast in bronze, the Copernicus statue is a replica of the piece created by famous Danish sculptor Bertel Thorvaldsen (1770-1844). An original from the initial cast, the statue was given to the City of Montréal in 1966 by the Polish community to commemorate the Centennial of Canadian Confederation.
Who was Copernicus?
A Polish astronomer who lived from 1473 to 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus was the founder of modern astronomy. He was the first to make the hypothesis that the Earth and other planets revolve around the Sun. His new model, called the heliocentric model, provided explanations for countless observations. Although his proposal was rejected for several years, it was ultimately accepted by the scientific community.
From Expo 67 to the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan
The monument was originally set up in front of the Man the Explorer theme pavilion at Expo 67. After the Expo site closed, it was transferred to the gardens of the Dow Planetarium in 1968. It stayed there until October 2013, when it was moved to a spot in front of the Planétarium Rio Tinto Alcan, a location worthy of this visionary astronomer.