sundial dedication

photo by Angela Pupino
Warren Young & Victoria, photo by Angela Pupino
Angela, Doug Fowler, Diana Ludwig, photo by Angela Pupino
photo by Angela Pupino
photo by Mike Dimuzio
photo by Mike Dimuzio
Tony Armeni, sculptor, & Victoria, photo by Lynn Cardwell
Tony Armeni, sculptor, photo by Lynn Cardwell (potter)
sculpture in progress by Tony Armeni,, photo by Lynn Cardwell
sculpture in progress by Tony Armeni, photo by Lynn Cardwell

sculpture in progress by Tony Armeni, Photo by Lisa-Ann Ishihara
brief mention in Vindicator 

dedication inside the planetarium, photo by Youngstown
State University/ Office of Marketing and Communications

Victoria Pirko, Angela Pupino, Pat Durrell, Doug Fowler and
Warren Young recounted memories, photo by Youngstown State
University/Office of Marketing and Communications

Warren Young, photo by Youngstown State University/
Office of Marketing and Communications

photo by Youngstown State University/
Office of Marketing and Communications
photo by Youngstown State University/
Office of Marketing and Communications
Michael Crescimanno and Patrick Durrell,
photo by Youngstown State University/
Office of Marketing and Communications
photo by Youngstown State University/
Office of Marketing and Communications
thanks to Doug for keeping the idea alive,
photo by Youngstown State University/
Office of  Marketing and Communications

Coverage by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio:
YSU Sundial Remembers Pirko's Work  Aug. 27, 2010
By Dennis LaRue
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Richard Pirko was remembered Thursday afternoon as, above all, a teacher with a passion for astronomy who shared that passion with thousands of visitors to the planetarium at Youngstown State University.
In his honor, the university dedicated a sundial outside the southern entrance to Ward Beecher Hall that leads to the planetarium. His widow, Victoria Pirko, unveiled the plaque recognizing him and his concept of building a “teaching sundial.” He was developing the idea two years ago, shortly before he died suddenly at age 55 following a heart attack in October 2008.
The sundial, built entirely from $5,500 in private funds donated in Pirko’s memory, was designed and built by Tony Armeni, an adjunct professor of art at YSU and a full-time sculptor. He built it in an equatorial bow style.
Not only is the sundial a work of art, as Patrick Durrell noted, it is accurate to within a minute, a considerable achievement. Durrell is director of the planetarium and a professor of physics and astronomy at YSU.
A 14-year-old student at Canfield High School, Angela Pupino, recalled meeting Pirko during her first visit to the planetarium when she was in the sixth grade and instantly became fascinated with the night skies.
As chief technician of the planetarium, Pirko, also an alumnus of YSU, wrote and produced many of the programs shown there. He treated Pupino with respect, she recalled, gently answering her questions no matter how ignorant she felt they were. They developed a friendship as her interest in, and knowledge of, astronomy grew.
“The planetarium was his first love,” Victoria Pirko recalled. “He built it into one of the best in the U.S.”
So skilled was he as a technician, said Warren Young, professor emeritus of astronomy and former chairman of the department of physics and astronomy, that Pirko kept the original planetarium equipment running nearly 40 years. “It was like a ’57 Chevy,” Young said. “A fine car” that should have been retired or replaced. Pirko, he said, “kept everything running” when the workings should have been replaced or updated after 15 years.
The sundial outside Ward Beecher Hall is remarkable for several reasons, the first being that it can be adjusted to run on standard and daylight savings time.
Today most Americans take humanity’s ability to measure time accurately -- to a nanosecond, even a picosecond, if need be -- for granted. If it’s 9:03 a.m. in Youngstown, residents here don’t wonder what time it is in or Pittsburgh or Columbus. They know residents of those cities register the time as 9:03 a.m. And they know the time is 8:03 a.m. in Chicago, 7:03 a.m. in Denver and 6:03 a.m. in Los Angeles.
What few appreciate today is just how recent the ability to measure time to such minute divisions is along with the creation of time zones. The growth of railroads in the late 19th century prompted the need for standard time in the United States.
As measured by the sun, noon in Youngstown is a small number of minutes behind Pittsburgh and roughly the same number of minutes ahead of noon in Cleveland.
Indeed, Youngstown is 23 minutes off sun time, Young noted, 23 minutes behind the 75th degree of west longitude on which New York City and Philadelphia nearly lie. (The sundial at YSU has been set to reflect this discrepancy.)
When the first mechanical clocks were introduced in the late 1300s, sundials held their own because these clocks were expensive, quite large and none too accurate when they worked. Greater accuracy and reliability came in the 1600s.
Precursor to the sundial was the sun stick. Ancient civilizations – Babylonia, Egypt and Greece – simply planted a stick in the ground and watched its shadow shorten and lengthen throughout the day. They marked off the lengths the shadows cast to denote hours.
The table dial and portable universal ring dial were two types of sundial in wide use in early modern Europe. The former survives to this day in many gardens.
Churches were often the sites where time was kept. Often a hole was cut in its roof such that a shaft of sunlight entered and illuminated a dial marked on the floor. The cathedral in Milan, Italy, still has this way of telling time.
The obvious drawback to sundials is that they don’t work on cloudy days or at night. Water clocks, or clepsydras, were in use as early as 1,500 BCE to remedy or supplement sun sticks. Water trickled from one container to another over an hour.
In The Story of Time, Elly Decker writes that using the shadow a stick casts on a dial, "this most natural approach to finding time during the day is also the mathematically most complicated. The reason is that the splay of lines differ considerably during the seasons: in the summer the lines are more widely arranged than in the spring or autumn whereas in the winter they are more narrowly spaced."
Indeed, until the widespread use of clocks with hour and second hands – the first mechanical clocks had only hour hands – the daylight hours from the vernal to autumnal equinoxes were longer than the daylight hours from the autumnal to vernal equinoxes. In northern Europe, on the summer solstice, a daylight hour was roughly twice as long as a daylight hour at the winter solstice.
If they had possessed instruments with the accuracy to daily compute how much the length of daylight increased or decreased – such instruments are called mechanical clocks -- they could have built more accurate sundials. But, then they wouldn't have needed to.
As Young advised the 50 or so at the ceremony to honor Pirko, if a heavy cloud cover precludes use of the sundial, "Look at your watch."
The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio
The sundial is currently being registered with the North American Sundial Society (NASS)  in their next website update; check here to see if Youngstown is listed in the Ohio page yet: