Sundials in
Berlin and around

Sundials in Potsdam


Sundials often could be found next to observatories or planetaria. Knowing the address of such a building includes probably knowing the place of a sundial.

Sundial with Einstein towerSundial at the Einstein tower

Sundial at the Einstein tower, Potsdam, fall 1997

The Einstein tower in Potsdam is placed within the science park "Albert Einstein" on the Telegraph hill. This isolated place may be the reason for the fact that one can ask a Potsdam citizen for the way to the Einstein tower without getting a hint. The sundial near the Einstein tower may be even lesser known.

The Einstein tower inhabits a solar observatory and was built 1920/21 by the Architect Erich Mendelsohn (1887-1953) in an expressionistic manner. The picture from fall 1997 shows the tower before its restauration. - The sundial belongs architectonical to the older observatory buildings built around 1900.

The 205x256 sized GIFs above are downscaled versions of 512x640 sized JPEGs (119 and 146kB) referenced by the GIFs.


Sundial at the Potsdam mill

Sundial at the building of the Mühle Potsdam GmbH, Potsdam, fall 1997

On the way to the sundial at the Einstein tower from the train station Potsdam Stadt one may pass the sundial in the Leipziger Str. The GIF above references to a JPEG (72kB), where the surrounding factory buildings and the street are visible. The hill vis-a-vis of the sundial leads to the Brandenburg diet building which one has to pass to get to the science park on the Telegraph hill.


Collage/Imagemap Potsdam Sanssouci

Collage around the sundial in Potsdam Sanssouci, fall 1995
600x398 GIF87, 170588 Bytes, converted by xv 3.10 from TIFF (Photoshop 2.5LE), referencing to 14 snapshots from Potsdam and Sanssouci (from upper-left to bottom-right):

historical astronomical instruments in front of the orangerie

Historical astronomical Instruments in Potsdam Sanssouci, colored postcard around 1910

The 403x235 GIF87 (86kBytes) above shows a colored postcard from the beginning of the 20th century and is referencing to a 806x470 JPEG (191kBytes) of the same picture of the front yard of the orangery in Potsdam Sanssouci.

An armillarsphere as the object hold by dragons in the left part of the image is a historical instrument for measuring the fixstar positions, but as a side effect its possible to determine the solar time. The armillarsphere and the other instruments in front of the orangery were originated by the Belgic Jesuit father Ferdinant Verbiest (1623-1688) who let build them for the imperial observatory in Beijing by German Jesuits.

The "visit" of the astronomical instruments in Potsdam lasted from 1901 until 1918. They were moved from China to Germany in 1901 after the boxer revolts and back in 1918 after the loss of the 1st World War and all colonies.


photo front side: Minox 35ML, photo sundial: Olympus E-100RS

Stülpnagel-Villa with Sundial, Potsdam-Babelsberg, late Winter 2001/2002

To find non-catalogized sundials mostly is a matter of random, and for the following two sundials the random started with a large newspaper article of a house at the Griebnitzsee with map and details of the historical location in the Southwest of Berlin, where the title of the article also stated: "Alte Sonnenuhr zeigt die neue Zeit an" (old sundials shows the new times).

The villa with sundial was originally build in 1894 for the infantry general von Stülpnagel. After the 2nd World War the house like many other in the neighbourhood in Potsdam was occupied by the Allies and it was used as a casino. Until 1998 the 440-square-meter-villa was renovated by the current owner.

The title of the newspaper article indicates that the sundial of the villa should show the "daylight savings time". The detail picture (222kB 1200x960 JPEG) shows a time of about 10:20h. According to the internal clock of the camera (Olympus E-100RS) which is set to MET the picture was made at the 3rd of March at 10:46h MET. The time equation of the Sun on a 3rd of March results in 13 minutes for a sundial to be late against the mean local time, and for Berlin this results in sundials being about 20 minutes late against the local zonal time. The fact that the sundial of the villa is about 25 to 26 minutes late indicates that this sundial is not adjusted to the "Summertime" but with a somewhat low error to the true local lime (which makes is even more likeable and more like its original of 1894).


The following sundial was photographed at the same day as the sundial above. Its placed at the backside of the Bruno-H.-Bürgel school in Babelsberg:

photos: Olympus E-100RS

Morning&Noon-Sundial at the Bruno-H.-Bürgel School, Potsdam-Babelsberg, late Winter 2001/2002

To find this sundial was only a stroke of luck. The chance was reasonable that a school with an observatory dome at the top and the name of Bruno H. Bürgel should also have a sundial. The branches visible at the photo are indicating that this sundial is only visible in Winter from outside of the school yard, and even when its visible its too far away to be read without aid.

If this sundial shows a time anyways, then it seems to indicate a time of some minutes after 12h. According to the camera, the picture was made at 11:43h MET. So the difference between camera time and sundial time would be about twenty minutes ahead, but if the camera time would be adjusted on MET, the sundial time should be the other way round - twenty minutes behind.

Assumed that the sundials was adjusted to "daylight savings time" it should show a time around 12:43h MEST or assumed it was adjusted to the local solar time plus one hour, then it should show a time around 12:23h. So if the internal camera clock shows any valid time, then this sundial seems to be broken.

The photo above was made with the maximum optical zoom of 380mm of the Olympus E-100RS. The picture is referencing to a photo of the front side of the school.


To the Index...next...-- jd --