How to Determine Direction

Page 3


One of the simplest, and least accurate, ways to determine direction is seeing where the sun rises and sets.


The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, right? Well, yes and no. The sun rises due east and sets due west only twice a year. Other than that, it rises in an easterly direction and sets in a westerly direction. This has to do with the travel of the earth around the sun. During the summer months, the sun rises a little north of due east and in the winter months, it rises a little south of due east. Exactly how much north or south of due east depends on exactly what day it is and how far north or south of the equator you are. 


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The same rules apply to the sun setting in the west. Except for two days a year, it will set a little north or south of due west depending on exactly what day it is and how far north or south of the equator you are. 


So what good is this knowledge? Tomorrow morning, stand facing the sun when it rises. In front of you is "east." Maybe not "due east," but "generally east." Directly behind you is "generally west." Raise your left arm out to your side. Now, your left arm is pointing "generally north." Raise your right arm directly out to your side. Your right arm is pointing "generally south." Unless you are looking for a exact direction, knowing the "general" direction should be sufficient for most circumstances.


You can use this same techniques at sundown, only you must reverse the above instructions, i.e. face the setting sun and east is behind you. Raise your right arm and it will point north, and raising your left arm will point south. It's important to remember that this technique "orients" you correctly. If you must go south to get back to civilization, you now know which direction is "generally south." 


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