Sunday, May 28, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Find the cardinal directions without a compass

if you have a good awareness of the out of doors it's usually possible to make a pretty good assessment of what direction you are facing and even what time it is. it requires some paying attention to the position of the sun not just today, but every day, because if you want to estimate direction you have to know within a couple hours what time it is and if you want to estimate time you have to have a pretty good idea of where the sun will rise and set.

this means you can't just start paying attention when you want the information. similarly, if you're going to be out all day, you can navigate by the sun, but only if you're paying attention to its movement as you go.

all that said, sometimes you need to know the cardinal directions, say, if you're working with a map and for some reason you lost your compass and your spare compass.

hey, it could happen, i guess.

or maybe you need to know the actual direction so you can make an accurate determination of time.

there are a lot of complicated methods involving drawing circles and intersecting shadows or analog watches or sighting constellations, but the easiest is the stick in the ground trick.

i've never done it before, so it was cool.

you need a day sunny enough to cast a shadow, though, so there's that.

you put a stick into the ground and you mark the end of its shadow with a stone or another stick. then you wait a while. mark the end of its shadow again. if you face away from the sun and line your feet up with your markers, you are facing true north. east will be on your right and west will be on your left. i really, really hope you can figure out where south is placed from there.

also, if you are in the southern hemisphere and you do this, you will be facing south. if you do not know in which hemisphere you are located, you have bigger problems than not being able to find the cardinal directions.
mark one

mark two
line it up and... BOOM. true north.

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