Grandfather clocks are full of different features but one of the first additional one was a moon dial. In this modern age, the moon dial has more decorative purposes than being useful, but it is still a very sought after feature. It has been recorded that the moon has effects on natural processes and there are many beliefs and superstitions connected to the moon.
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A grandfather clock moon dial is designed to show the moon phase and the lunar date.
The Lunar Period is still widely used in modern mechanical clocks but in the modern time, it is difficult to understand the importance of the ever-changing phases of the moon.
Premier Clocks will shed a bit of light on how and why clock moon dials became an essential feature to grandfather clocks.
The grandfather moon dial clock began appearing between in the late 17th century and the early part of the 18th century. In that era, knowing the correct moon phase was important to different lifestyles and occupations, but especially for those who were in agriculture.
During that times, the grandfather clocks were made by hand and the moon dial was added to most timepieces. Clockmasters did their best to make the moon dial as accurate as possible.
Knowing the moon phase helped people to have their plans ahead depending on the moon phase. For example, night trips on horseback, or by coach, were much safer during the light of a full moon; or farmers could harvest crops under a full moon.
A grandfather clock moon dial varies between a simple photo and elaborated carved details. Often made from wood mahogany and metal, each grandfather clock moon dials are carefully made.
There are older versions of moon dials available from the 18th century. A grandfather clock moon dial created by Georgian designers and those of Victorian designers are very popular. The Herschede clock Company, Charles Jacques and Smith Patterson and Co all produced some of its best grandfather clock moon dials.
Grandfather clock moon dials consist of a round disk displaying two pictures of the moon. Generally grandfather clocks use mechanical movements with an accurate lunar dial.
The moon dial slowly moves clockwise following the 29.5 day lunar cycle. The number 29.5 is engraved above the rotating moon dial on most grandfather clocks.
All moon dials have an image of the moon that moves showing the lunar date and position of the moon in the sky. The primary lunar phases are the new moon, first quarter, full moon, and last quarter. For example, it is the new moon phase when the image of the moon disappears and the moon image will appear at the top of the dial on the 15th day.
The moon dial operates together with the clock movement and needs to be set only once.
To set up the moon dial correctly, you need to determine what phase the moon currently is in. To know the actual moon phase and the lunar date, you can simply google it. Search "moon phase today" or "lunar date".
Step 1. With your fingertips, apply slight pressure to the front of the moon dial and rotate the moon dial clockwise until the moon is directly below the #15 lunar day mark (each mark represents a lunar day) on the lunar arch.
Step 2. Refer to an almanac or calendar and determine the date of the last full moon. Count the number of days past the last full moon.
Step 3. Rotate the moon dial clockwise 1 lunar day for every day past the full moon.
Step 4. The moon dial is now set and will indicate the proper moon phases as long as the clock operates continuously. If the clock stops the moon dial will also stop and can be reset when the clock is started again.
➤ Read more How to Set a Moon Dial on a Grandfather Clock
The moon dial is designed to show the shape of the moon as it appears in the sky, the number alongside it being the lunar date. The numbers on the moon dial represent the Lunar Calendar and NOT the calendar date. A lunar month has consistently 29,5 days in every month and these are usually lettered in Arabic numerals. The full moon always occurs on the 15th day of the Lunar Calendar.
If it were a full moon today, the image of the moon on the dial would be centered below the 15 on the dial. The dial needs two so that when one moon phase is complete, the next one begins. It will take 59 days, two moon cycles, for the moon dial to make one complete rotation. It makes no difference which one is under the 15.
Prices for grandfather clock moon dials can vary depending on the size, material, time period and other characteristics.
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