Sun, Moon and Stars (Sonne, Mond und Sterne)

Title of ArtworkSun, Moon and Stars (Sonne, Mond und Sterne)
Year of Origin1999
    Sonnenlicht, Fabrikinnere, Heliostat-Sonnenspiegel, Laserpointer, lasergeschnittene Flachprismen, astronomische Zeit- und Datumsberechnungen.
Collaboration/Shared Production/Research
    Kokerei Zollverein, Essen, Germany
Medium/Type of Artwork
Light Source
Light-Optical Factors
History of a work


A living, glowing Solar Spectrum map of the entire astronomical year, projected into a unique architectural space.

Using a skylight, custom prisms, and hundreds of site-specific astronomical calculations, Peter Erskine's unique “Rainbow Sundial Calendar,” transforms ordinary Sunlight and the rotation of the Earth into a radiant, architecturally scaled map of the solar year – inside a building! Powered by the rotation of the Earth, a giant moving cross of solar spectrum color tells the astronomical time and date – for that specific location on the planet. The curving horizontal lines inlaid into the walls and floor indicate the path of the Sun during the months, equinoxes and solstices. The vertical lines show the hours and minutes. Standing inside this living cosmic clock, you can actually “see” the Earth turning under your feet.

Installation Location
Exhibition Kokerei Zollverein,
Sun, Moon, and Stars (Sonne, Mond und Sterne)
Kokerei Zollverein, Essen Germany, 1999

Materials: Sunlight, factory interior, Heliostat solar tracking mirror, laser pointer, laser-cut flat prisms, astronomical time and date calculations.
Erskine created two installations for Sun, Moon and Stars. “Spectrum of Time” and “Sunrise” are permanent installations in the Kokerei Zollverein, a renovated coking factory converted to an exhibition site in the heart of the German coal mining region.

Spectrum of Time

SPECTRUM OF TIME is a permanent rainbow sundial calendar installation, in a United Nations Historic Preservation site. Hour and month lines painted on the walls and floor of the 40′ X 40′ X 40′ industrial museum space mark the hours, summer and winter solstices, and the spring and autumn equinoxes with astronomical accuracy. A 30′ X 30′ cross of solar spectrum light powered by the rotation and tilt of the earth tells the time and date. On cloudy days a laser pointer driven by a solar tracking program fills in for the rainbow.


SUNRISE is the first art experience in the Kokerei. Riding in a people mover, viewers ride the 400′, 20 degree incline following the dark path of the coal in its original conveyor belt tunnel. As they rise, the viewers travel through a fog illuminated 400′ long 10′ high solar spectrum beam, and pass through the changing colors of the rainbow. When they disembark on the factory roof they see the solar powered 8′ X 8′ heliostat solar tracking mirror, and solar prisms that create the art.  (08.03.2019)

Special features artworkn/a