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Sunny Side Up

Muottas Muragl

Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up

The sundial of Muottas Muragls has chosen a prime location since the Engadin high valley is one of the sunniest places in Switzerland. Accordingly, there are opportunities galore for telling the time with the help of «Sine Sole Sileo», the world’s most accurate sundial.

In the days of old, telling time involved both looking up into the sky and looking down on the ground as the relation of solar altitude and the length of one’s own shadow has always been the basis of our concept of time since … well, since the beginning of time, pardon the pun. The sun never lies and reliably follows its own consistent path from east via south to west. When it reaches its culmination, it’s 12:00 pm or noon. 12 noon at the place where this culmination occurs of course.

«Local apparent time » vs. «Standard clock time»

Each sundial registers the so-called «local apparent time» that is dependent on the respective longitude of its position. When we look at our watch, it tells us the mechanical time, which, for practical reasons, is subject to fewer adjustments. How utterly confusing it would be if we had to constantly set our clocks ahead or back with each change of location! And here comes the ingenious twist of the sundial on Muottas Muragl: Amateur constructor Fred Bangerter added additional rotatable discs to the dial in order to allow for individual time corrections. The intriguing result: his sundial «Sine Sole Sileo» (Latin for «Without shadow, I fall silent») tells the current mechanical time with an accuracy of 10 seconds.

Reading the time depending on the season

In order to allow the time to be read at any given moment, Fred Bangerter decided to build a so-called equatorial sundial whose dial lies parallel to the equatorial plane. He ensured the required tilt of 43.5° on Muottas Muragl by mounting the sundial on a boulder – thus giving it a particularly aesthetic look. A small side effect of this placement is that the sun’s rays only shine onto the dial during the summer half-year (March 21st to September 23rd) as the sun is too low during the winter half-year.

And this is how it works:

  1. The information board next to the sundial tells you the required time correction factor. Set the middle disc accordingly.

  2. Now turn the uppermost disc until its adjustment line is positioned exactly on the hand’s shadow.

  3. Voilà: you can read the time both on the uppermost and – amazingly accurately – on the middle disc by means of the 5-second-scales.

Also a timekeeper at full moon

Although the sun only fully shines on the dial during the summer half-year, the device can be used as a moon dial in winter. At full moon, as well as during the four nights before and after, the shadow of the moon will be sufficiently distinct. However, the pale golden sky disc must also be high enough which is not always the case. Please consult the Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl for more information on the best lunar nights to use the moon dial ((or download our fact sheet)).

Further information