Alumni News

Horam Expecta Veniet

A photograph of the sundial on the Columbia University campus

Scott Rudd

Gifted to the University by the Class of 1885 in celebration of its 25th reunion, the Sundial is a beloved campus landmark. A 16-ton granite sphere originally sat upon the base, but in 1946 it was removed after developing a crack. When functional, the Sundial was unusual in that it tracked the date rather than just time of day. A December 7, 1914, Spectator article reports that astronomy professor Harold Jacoby CC 1885 “designed the astronomical part of the memorial, which is the only time­piece of its kind in the world. As there are two shadows cast by the ball, one on either side, two plates are necessary. On these plates the days of each month are marked out. By means of the calibrations on these plates, the New York standard time is indicated once each day. The shadow will fall exactly at the date at noon.”