Bill Nye Solar Noon Clock

Bill Nye '77 designed and donated Cornell's Rhodes Hall Clock, a clock that indicates the Sun's highest daily position with a flood of light.

Bill Nye pointing to his watch in front of Rhodes Hall ClockInspired by stories from his father, a World War II prisoner of war who observed the shadow of a shovel handle to reckon the passage of time, Nye has been fascinated by sundials since childhood.

 

Rhodes Hall

What time is solar noon at Cornell today?

<p>1:02:45 pm</p>

Letter from Bill Nye '77

Every minute of every day, I find my life enriched by my time at Cornell. That time was made possible by my parents and the many wonderful instructors I had along the way. This clock is to honor the University, its legacy of discovery, and its people. I hope it will inspire those Cornellians and visitors, who come after us. Here is the design and the story that has filled me with great interest and passion for this project.

Sincerely,

Bill Nye
Class of 1977, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

The Solar Noon Indicator

For a clock feature indicating Solar Noon, it is fitting to illuminate it with sunlight; it has to work even on cloudy days.

What is Solar Noon?

The difference between Solar Noon and standard clock noon varies throughout the year and is referred to as the “equation of time."

Bill Nye

The Solar Noon Indicator is a product of my Cornell years. It combines fundamental principles of modern electrical and mechanical branches of engineering along with wonderful discoveries in astronomy that date back more than 19 centuries.

— Bill Nye '77

The Bill Nye Solar Noon Clock live cam*

*The Solar Noon Indicator is not working right now. A software problem associated with the Week Number Roll Over problem took us offline in April 2019, and the pandemic has kept us offline. The indicator will be working again soon.

Bill Nye

I very much hope that the Solar Noon Indicator will inspire Cornellians and visitors alike, as they note the time of day reckoned with our Sun and ponder their place among the stars.

— Bill Nye '77

Bill Nye at Rhodes Hall solar noon display case

Visit the Bill Nye Solar Noon Clock display case to view original project items and media about the history, design, and creation of the Solar Noon Clock. The display case is located in the lobby of Rhodes Hall.