Marking Time by Day and the North Star by Night
The Carefree Sundial sits in downtown Carefree, against the gorgeous backdrop of the Sonoran Desert, Arizona.
Completed in 1959, it claims to be the largest sundial in the country and third-largest in the Western Hemisphere and was designed by architect Joe Wong and solar engineer John Yellott.
The Carefree Sundial stands 35 feet tall, extends 72 feet and is 90 feet in diameter and points to the north star. This huge dial is made of steel and plated with anodized copper and the metal gnomon rising 35 feet above the plaza. Local apparent time is 27.7 minutes behind the meridian time which here is Mountain Standard Time. The hour-lines are offset to account for plaza’s longitude, 6° 35′ 36″ west of the Mountain Standard Time meridian, 105° west
The sundial is encircled by cacti and stones surrounding a reflecting pool with golden lines and concrete Roman numerals to mark the time. Once it was visible from nearly 2 miles away but a shopping-centre has developed around it, obscuring the view.
The 1.2m wide gnomon was originally designed to absorb solar energy which was converted into heat by three copper tubes, which pumped the heated water into a local heating system for a neighbouring office block. To facilitate the absorption, the top 52 feet (16 m) of the gnomon’s length was coated with a special paint. We’re not sure if it still carries out this function but have read rumours that the wide gnomon was popular with local children who dared each other to run to the top and slide back down!
A smaller 1/48 scale model is on site along with an equation of time table.