New role for Czech Republic TV tower: A giant sundial

The second-tallest television tower in the Czech Republic has a new function: it's become part of a huge sundial.

The 342-meter (1,122-foot) -tall Krasov tower near the western town of Bezverov has been in place since 1981. The local area is famed among astronomers for being exceptionally dark at night.

That might change soon, though, if as officials hope tourists come to see the sundial.

It all started about two years ago when Vaclav Sidorjak was flying in a motorized parachute near the tower on a sunny day and noticed that it cast "a beautiful shadow on the earth's surface." Sidorjak, an amateur astronomer, realized he was watching what might be an unusual sundial.

"The idea came out of the sky," he said.

Bezverov Mayor Jan Matousek was all for the project, hoping it would put his town on the map. With help from authorities and the Czech Astronomical Society, Sidorjak's idea became real at the end of March.

Compromises had to be made due to the size of the structure. A particular challenge was the length of the shadow, which changes from several hundred meters in summer to kilometers (miles) in winter.

In the end, Sidorjak and other volunteers opted to place the 3-meter (10-foot) tall metal Roman numerals that show the time from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. along a nearby road at a distance of 200-270 meters (656-886 feet) from the tower.

The sundial shows the most exact time at the spring and autumn equinoxes. At other times it could be out by up to 15 minutes.

But for Sidorjak, that's not the point.

"I am absolutely delighted that the whole idea became reality," he said. "We have managed to do something special that can bring popularity to the region."