How to determine the cardinal points without a compass

It happens that during a trip a compass and a map are lost, and the terrain is unfamiliar. To go to the nearest village, you need to navigate which way to go. How to determine the cardinal points without a compass? In fact, there are a lot of such methods, the main thing at the same time is to be able to use them, and turn on your own observation.

Cardinal points without a compass: ways

Determining the cardinal points is not an easy task; it requires attention and a certain amount of patience.

Definition of cardinal points without a compass by the sun

Determine the cardinal points of the sun

One of the most accurate methods during the day is orientation to the sun using a mechanical clock located horizontally. At noon, when the hour hand shows twelve o'clock, the sun is in the south. While the hour hand makes two turns on the dial, the sun makes one in the sky. A simple calculation shows that for the same period of time the star shifts by an angle two times smaller than the hour hand. Thus, if you plot a bisector pointing to the star between the clock and a division equal to 12 hours, then this twelve-hour mark, as before, will indicate the southern direction. The position of the sun before noon should be calculated by the dial on the left side, in the afternoon - on the right. Maternity time should be considered when orienting by the clock, i.e. the error is about 10 degrees: in the summer, the calculation is based on the number 1, and in the winter - division by the number 2.


This method is most effective when applied in the middle and northern latitudes, especially in winter. In spring and autumn it is less accurate, and in summer it is better not to use it due to the fact that the sun is too high, which entails large calculation errors (25 degrees or more).

If there is no mechanical watch at hand, you can use a sundial. The method consists in determining the cardinal points from the shadow cast from a linear object:

  1. To do this, insert a stick into the ground so that it casts a clear shadow.
  2. Mark the first mark on the ground where the shadow of the stick ends.
  3. After about 20 minutes, the shadow will move a certain distance, this will be the place for the second mark.
  4. It is necessary to connect the two resulting labels with a straight line, this will turn the east-west axis. A high stick more accurately determines the direction.
  5. It is necessary to stand in such a way that the first mark is on the left and the second on the right. Thus, you will face exactly to the north, the east will be on the right and the west direction on the left. This concerns the determination of the sides of the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, the shadow will point south, west will be on the left, and east on the right.

The easiest way, by analogy with the above methods, is as follows: you need to stand with your back exactly at noon to the direction of sunlight, spread your arms to the right and left. The falling shadow will indicate the north direction, the south will be behind, the east on the right hand and the west on the left. Do not forget that, in the southern hemisphere, the falling shadow, on the contrary, indicates the southern direction.

Orientation by the sun is possible even after sunset: on summer nights, relative to the northern latitudes, from the close proximity to the horizon of the incoming sun, the north side of the sky becomes lighter and the south side becomes darker.

How to know the cardinal directions without a compass by the moon and stars

Determine the cardinal points by stars

Orientation by the moon and the dial is carried out similarly to solar orientation. To apply this method, you first need to determine the corrections to the clock: mentally divide the radius of the full disk of the moon into four equal parts and estimate how many of them are across its visible part. These parts (phases) are: the full moon, in which the disk of the moon is visible from sunset to dawn; the visible half of the disk, then one fourth of its part and three quarters of the lunar disk. If the lunar disk is not visible, then the new moon phase has come.

On the clock you need to notice the time, then take away or add the clock. So, with the growing moon, when its right side is visible, i.e. one second disk, this number is subtracted from the time shown on the clock. In the waning phase of the moon, i.e. with its visible left part (three quarters), the required number is added to the hour of observation. The number obtained by adding or subtracting will indicate the hour when the sun appears where the moon is. After that, you need to navigate along it, finding the south direction. At the same time, you need to divide to the moon by dividing the hour dial. This method is similar to the orientation of the sun and the dial. Thus, you need to direct the division of the hour dial on the lunar disk, corresponding to the calculated hour value (but not the hour hand), find the north-south line as the bisector of the angle between this line and the one that corresponds to true noon time.

To remember what to do - subtract or add, you need to imagine the lunar horn in the form of the letter "C". In this case, the number of hours equal to the number of divisions on the light surface of the star should be added to the time on the clock. If the horn forms the opposite of the letter "C", this quantity should be taken away.

A simpler method is one in which the lunar disk should be in the first or last quarter. In this case, 1/4 of the lunar disk is visible, this happens on the seventh-eighth or 22-23 days after the new moon. To find the southern direction, you need to connect both ends of the lunar horn with an imaginary straight line, extending it to the horizon. Relative to the southern hemisphere, this point will indicate the northern direction. If it is not in the new moon phase, when two luminaries are lined up side by side, then they are east or west of each other. Reflecting sunlight, the lunar lunar surface indicates the direction of the sun east or west, respectively. The line connecting both ends of the lunar disk is perpendicular to the east-west line, which means it indicates the north-south direction.

A full lunar disk, like the sun, rises in the east, and sets in the west.

If the night is clear, the full moon shines very brightly, illuminating objects on the ground that cast a clear shadow. You can use a method similar to determining the position of the sun while casting shadows from a stick stuck in the ground.

For the northern hemisphere, you can use the following methods of finding cardinal points by stars:

  • You need to find the North Star, which is located at the end of the so-called "bucket" of Ursa Minor. If you look directly at the bright North Star, the south will be behind, the east will be on the right, and the west will be on the left.
  • Orientation by the constellation Southern Cross (in the Southern Hemisphere), indicating the direction to the south.

How to find the cardinal points without a compass by natural phenomena

Cardinal points on natural phenomena

If you observe certain natural phenomena, you can also find the right side of the world. This is a rather subjective method, but often it is very accurate, especially if you combine several factors together.

  1. If you observe the anthills, you will notice that they are all located on the south side of the tree. At the same time, its gentle slope is in the south, and the steep one is in the north.
  2. Moss and lichen always cover the northern part of tree trunks, stones, stumps and other forest objects.
  3. If the summer day is hot, you may notice that resin droplets protrude from the south side of the conifer.
  4. Surely everyone knows that in the spring birds head north, and in the fall south. You can observe a massive flight to determine the side of the world.
  5. Mushrooms usually grow on the north side of a tree at its roots.
  6. If you are in the field, you can find sunflowers. They always turn east to flower.
  7. In summer, large forest boulders are moistened more from the north than from the south.
  8. If you find a cut stump, it is worth looking at the rings of its cut: they are always more inclined to the north.

These observations will help you navigate in the summer, spring or autumn in the forest and find the right side of the world. In winter, you should use other methods.

Watch the video: How To Find Direction Without a Compass (February 2020).