Capricorn: Dec.22-Jan.29 The Sundial Primer
created by Carl Sabanski
Capricorn: Dec.22-Jan.29

The Sundial Primer Index

The Zodiac

Zodiac: an imaginary band, centred on the ecliptic, across the celestial sphere and about 16 wide, in which the Sun, Moon and the planets Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn are always located. The band is divided into 12 intervals of 30, each named (the Signs of the Zodiac) after the constellation of stars which it contains. The sun's ecliptic longitude may be measured against this scale. The names (and/or signs) of the constellations are given in Table 1 below and are often used in sundials, instead of the date, to specify declination lines etc.  Because of the effects of precession over the period of 2,300 years since the constellations were first named, the signs of the zodiac have slipped by a whole sign, i.e. at the vernal equinox (defined as the first point of Aries), the Sun is actually in the constellation of Pisces.


Table 1 provides details of the twelve Signs of the Zodiac. These signs were very significant to people long ago and to many even today.

Table 1: Signs of the Zodiac

Table 1: Signs of the Zodiac

A sundial can include declination lines that indicate when the sun enters a particular constellation or sign. The symbol or name of the sign can be placed on the sundial as shown in Figure 1. Some very beautiful dials incorporate decorative symbols to show the Signs of the Zodiac.

Figure 1: Vertical Sundial with the Signs of the Zodiac

Figure 1: Vertical Sundial with the Signs of the Zodiac (SHADOWS)

Figure 2 illustrates a number of fonts that contain the signs of the zodiac.

Figure 2: Signs of the Zodiac

Figure 2: Signs of the Zodiac

If you would like these fonts please click here. The file contains 4 true type fonts that will give all the images shown above. You will find one more set of zodiac images but I could only find 11 of the 12 images using the following keys: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,0,+. If you find the last one please let me know where it is. The last image is hiding at "ALT+0189". It can also be found by using "Character Map" in "Systems Tools" in "Accessories". Also "Insert-Symbol" will find it in some cases.

You can make these fonts any size you want but sometimes you may want the image to be a set of lines and curves for use in some particular application. There is a method of converting true type fonts to lines and curves if you have the appropriate software. I used this technique to import different fonts into my CAD drawings for the 3d sundial images. This didn't work for all the zodiac fonts. The description is generic as I am not familiar with a lot of the software available.

If the CAD software has a command to do this conversion for you then you are done. Mine does not. However, by using drawing or illustration software you may be able to do the following. First apply a hairline border to your font and remove the fill. Then the software must have a command that converts your text to curves. You can now manipulate the image in the software you are using. If you want to use the converted font in a CAD drawing look to see if you can export the drawing as a dxf file. You can then open the dxf file with your CAD software and use it as you wish. You could also copy the image to the Clipboard and paste it in the CAD drawing but I found that the pasted image was of poor quality in comparison to using the other method.

And if you want to bypass all this please click here. This is a dxf file of the first five lines of images shown in Figure 2 converted to curves and ready for use.