Seattle: The sundial capital of North America

Seattle: The sundial capital of North America

SEATTLE - Every time the sun shines in Seattle, it sheds light on Woody Sullivan and his mission.

"I am out to make Seattle the sundial capital of North America, I just love the irony of it," said Sullivan.

Sullivan teaches astronomy at the University of Washington, but to truly appreciate his passion for sundials, just visit his Phinney Ridge "man lodge". Outside the window he has a tiny mirror mounted on a pipe.

"And the idea is the sun will reflect off that mirror," explained Sullivan.

It took Sullivan and an artist three years to chart hundreds of reflected dots across the top of Sullivan's remodeled garage. The end result is his pride and joy - one of the country's only reflective sun dials.

"Even at night time, I look up and say, 'wow' this is really neat," Sullivan said.

On sunny days, time marches on across his ceiling from one painted intersecting line to the other.

"Each of the bands is a half an hour," he pointed out.

His home sundial works as a calendar, too.

Sullivan said, "For a public sundial I would not make anything so complex, cause it would turn people off."

Instead, Sullivan helped design less complicated, but just as impressive timepieces throughout Seattle.

His first one went up in 1994 on the side of the astronomy building at the university where he works. The huge wall sundial ignited Sullivan's passion to make more and research the ones that already exist in town.

Anyone with several hours to spare, can take Sullivan's Sundial trail. He's mapped the location of various dials along a 17 mile route.

"You can look at a few of them or go around to all 15 of them on a nice sunny day if you want to," he said.

The way Sullivan sees it, Seattle already reigns as the country's sundial capital, even though that title is often eclipsed by our cloudy weather.

"I thought I should acknowledge we live in a rainy place and so I have a little ditty," Sullivan said.

"I thrive in the sun, I can't work in the rain.

So, if I be clouded, please come back again."

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