Astronomers watch the mostly static skies. Once in awhile, something moves. Sometimes things move fast.. very fast.
At those times it is very useful to know what time it is. Exactly what time it is.
In the past we used to get a shortwave radio and listen for the audio time signal from WWV at 5 or 10 MHz. We could never pick up CHU, the Canadian equivalent.

In any event, we were preparing for an occultation a couple of weeks back and realized the need for exact time. The best we had was a shortwave radio (that didn’t work) and my wristwatch, which sync to the so called “atomic clock” radio signal at 60Khz. Better called “Radio Clock” sync.

A wristwatch is often hard to see in the dark when working other equipment, so we went on a hunt for a larger desktop clock. This is what we found on


Sets itself automatically to the time signal from the US atomic clock at Fort Collins, Colo
Automatically adjusts for Daylight Savings Time and standard time
Built-in solar cell and rechargeable battery
Large easy to read liquid crystal display time, month, date, day and indoor temperature
Digital seconds counter

For about $25 we now have a good primary source of time. We will be testing it in the future to see how much it drifts when not able to sync daily with the atomic clock, but for now, we’ll take it as our best source.
We also now have two working shortwave radios that can pick up the WWV audio signal as well. We should be good for the next event.

The longest dimension is less than 15cm (6″), the battery inside should keep it running for up to 8 years and the solar cell on top is an assist. It also comes with an alarm and a light/snooze button. Try as we might, we could not find any red LED displays.