If push comes to the shove and you need to find the true north without a compass, you must know how to do that to survive. We’ll tell you how today!
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Finding True North: Navigate Outdoors Without a Compass
1. Shadow-Tip Method
There are three essential components in using a stick to act as a true north compass: the sun, a stick, and the stick’s shadow.
Place a stick upright on level ground where it can cast a shadow. Mark the tip-off of the darknes and wait for about 10 -1 5 mins. until the shadow changes its position. When it does, mark the second largest shadow. Stand on the first mark with your left foot and the second mark on with your right. Doing this would induce you stand in front of the true north.
2. Stars in the Northern Hemisphere
What is the Northern Hemisphere? The portion of the globe above the equator. The Northern Hemisphere consists of 90% of the world’s whole population.
Looking at the stars in the northern hemisphere is one of the most efficient way on how to find true north without a compass. This is a good technique to use when the stars are glistening brightly in the clear night skies.
Locate the Big Dipper constellation and draw an imaginary line on its two outer stars.
In sky lore, these two stars are called Dubhe and Merak. The line points to Polaris which is the last star in the Little Dipper constellation.
Now that you found Polaris, merely draw an imaginary line downward and that is where the true north is.
3. Stars in the Southern Hemisphere
If you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, the North star will not be visible. Hence, you will be required to look for the Little Dipper instead.
Look for the Southern Cross, which is composed of five starrings and is angled on one side. Set five imaginary lines as large as the longest axis of the Southern Cross in front of its angled side. From there, draw another imaginary line downward — this points toward the true south. Thus, this attains the opposite direction the true north.
4. Stars in the Equator
In this method, you’ll be using Orion’s Belt to navigate. It runs from east to west, so you are able to project a line from these directions.
Projecting another line starting from the middle star of the belt downward will point you to the true north.
5. A Watch in the Northern Hemisphere
Hold your watch horizontally and make sure the hour hand phases at the sun. Bisect that angle you see between your watch’s hour hand and the 12 o’clock — this angle is the north-south line.
In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun is in the south when it’s midday, so opposite of it will be where north is. If, on the other hand, you follow daylight saving day, then bisect it with the 1 o’clock instead of 12.
6. A Watch in the Southern Hemisphere
When you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, phase the 12 o’clock at the sunshine or 1 o’clock if it’s on daylight saving time. Bisect a line from the hour hand and the one pointed at the sunlight, which stimulates your north-south line.
Since you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, the sunshine is due north at midday, leading you to where the true north is.
7. Sun’s Direction
Knowing where the sunlight is positioned will assist you find where the true north is. Technically, the sunlight rises in the east and sets in the west.
So by early morning, watch where the sunshine rises. The true north will be a quarter turn counterclockwise from that direction.
On the other hand, if you consider the sunset, which is the west direction, the north is approximately a one-quarter turn clockwise from that direction.
Download or reference this infographic for future reference.
Of course, procuring the true north is simpler if you have a compass, so it’s best to always keep one in your bug out suitcase. But in cases when there’s none, learning the above-mentioned ways can help you out in find your style back.
I’ve tried the shadow-tip technique and it worked perfectly. The downside, though, is you need to have sunlight to be able to use the method used so it will be hard to rely on this one after sunset.
Do you know other ways to find true north without a compass? Share them in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 11, 2017, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
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