Shadows is a software for calculating and drawing all kinds of sundials and astrolabes.
A sundial is a clock telling time from the sun, via the shadow of a style or the light spot of an eyepiece.
Avaible in three levels, the first one being free, it can be used by anyone without specific knowledge, to create a sundial tailored for a particular location and orientation. Amateurs having some skills in artcraft, engraving, metal working, wood working, etc. can now make their own sundials without worrying about calculations, thanks to the Shadows software.
The two advanced levels, Shadows Expert and Shadows Pro, make it possible, for the price of a book, to access to additional features and new types of sundials. Today, Shadows Pro is considered as the best software of its kind, and is used by tens of thousands of users around the world.
The user interface is translated into 17 languages, and its 150-page user manual in 5 languages.
The Shadows software is designed and developed by François Blateyron, amateur astronomer, engineer specialized in software development and French entrepreneur.
He became amateur astronomer in high school and started observing stars under the light polluted sky of the north of France, but his passion had to be put on hold a few years later in order to concentrate on his school education in Lyon and later on his first job in a start-up located in Montpellier. At the end of his engineer school in 1988, he spent six months in Besançon, at the dermatology laboratory of the Saint-Jacques hospital, developing an application for the analysis of microrelief of skin. In 1992, he joined two former school friends at Digital Surf, a company they had started 2 years before, in the field of surface analysis. Today, he is Director of Research & Metrology and co-owner of this company.
He has come back to astronomy 10 years ago and now he is doing astrophography from his backyard, shooting galaxies and nebulae. His photos can be seen on the following page (text in French). He is an active member of several astronomy clubs and societies (Association Astronomique de Franche-Comté (AAFC), Société Astronomique de France (SAF)). During his business trips or his holidays, he sometimes has the opportunity to take pictures of sundials around the world, to visit observatories or assist to solar eclipses.
François Blateyron received in 2023 the Sawyer Dialing Prize, from the North American Sundial Society, an american association gathering hundreds of sundial enthusiasts. His is only the second French to receive this prize, after Denis Savoie in 2019, an author of many books on sundials. The prize comes with a glass sundial made by Jim Tallman for the location of the recipient.
In 2005, the French astronomy society (Société Astronomique de France) had honored François Blateyron with the Julien Saget medal, handed by Denis Savoie, then president of the French sundial commission.
Discover an article on sundials and the Shadows software published in Free Astronomy Magazine of March-April 2022.
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