How to Navigate Without a Compass

There are many situations in our lives when the skills of navigation might be necessary. It might be something small, like when we go camping or do something that has to do with survival.

5-Minute Crafts is going to tell you how to navigate your surroundings if you don’t have a compass.

How to use the sun

Every day, the sun rises in the east and goes down in the west, and at noon, it’s at its highest point in the sky and in the south. You can always tell where each direction is.

❗ This only works for the northern hemisphere.

How to use stars

Northern hemisphere:
To find out where the north is, you need to find the North Star, which is on the end of the tail of the Little Dipper.
If you can’t find where it is, find the Big Dipper and measure the distance between the 2 last stars at the end of the dipper. Imagine a line from the plow of the Big Dipper, make the line 5 times, and you will find the North Star.

Southern hemisphere:
Find the Southern Cross and this will be the way south. It’s like a kite and there are always 2 pointer stars near it. To find where the south is, make a line from the edge of the cross and a perpendicular line between the pointer stars — the point where the lines cross is the south.

How to use a watch

To make this method work, you need to follow these 2 conditions: have a watch with hands and be able to see the sun.

Northern hemisphere:
Remove the watch from your arm and put it on the palm. Keep it parallel to the ground. Together with the watch, turn so that the hour hand faces the sun. Imagine a line between the hour hand and the 12-hour mark. If you divide this area exactly in half, you’ll create a midway line. You will have the north-south line where the north is on the side of the sun. At 12 o’clock, you can’t make such a line.

Southern hemisphere:
Keep the watch on the palm parallel to the ground. Turn the watch so that the 12-hour mark points at the sun. Make a line between the 12-hour mark and the hour hand. Find a midpoint on this line. It will give you the north-south line, where the north is to the side of the sun. The line will show the north-south line where the north is aside from the sun.

✅ You can do this with a digital watch. You will have to imagine where the hands would be at a certain moment in time.

How to use shadows

1. Find a flat spot on the ground. Take a thin, straight stick and put it into the ground so it’s vertical.
2. Look at where the shadow from the stick falls. Mark the end of the shadow with a small rock or another object.
3. Wait for the shadow to move (for 20-30 minutes) and mark the end of the shadow with another object.
4. Connect the 2 marks. You will have the west-east line where the west is the first mark and east is the second one.

❗ This only works for the northern hemisphere.

How to use trees

Often, it’s easy to tell where south is if there’s a lonely tree. Walk around the tree and look closely at it. It’s thicker on the southern side and it will have more branches there.

❗Make sure you choose a tree that is not affected by other factors, like other trees, buildings, or disease.

This only works for the northern hemisphere.

How to use moss

❗ Navigating with moss is not a very reliable method. Aside from the main factors affecting the position of moss, there are some others that are less important that can show the wrong direction and confuse you even more.

Moss likes damp places and it’s usually on the parts of the trees and on rocks that are mostly in the shadows. To tell where the north is, look at the structure and color of the moss. Green moss usually grows on the northern side. Dry and pale moss grows on the parts that are usually exposed to sunlight.

Remember that in the places where there’s too much humidity, like near rivers, it might be very hard to navigate by the moss because it’s everywhere.

❗ This only works for the northern hemisphere.

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