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#245453 - 04/30/12 06:57 PM Navigation by the Sun
Outdoor_Quest Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/17/09
Posts: 305
Loc: Central Oregon
Would appreciate your thoughts about using the sun to navigate by.

Sample scenario: You are in the back country and the magnetic compass is destroyed. You have no GPS.

I am looking for a few time tested methods/techniques for a future lesson plan.

My references that I use include the books Staying Found, US Army Field Manual FM 21-76.

Thanks in advance,

Blake

www.outdoorquest.blogspot.com


Edited by Outdoor_Quest (04/30/12 06:57 PM)

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#245455 - 04/30/12 07:30 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: Outdoor_Quest]
chaosmagnet Offline
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3269
Loc: USA
If I know the time of day and the sun is visible but is not high overhead, it's pretty easy to determine East or West and rough out your other directions. You can also use an analog watch as a compass:

Originally Posted By: http://www.onebag.com/popups/wcompass.html
In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand in the direction of the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the twelve o'clock mark to get the north-south line. North will be the direction further from the sun.


As with any map and compass exercise, once I'm oriented and I can orient the map I will try to associate terrain features with the map to make sure that I'm seeing what I think I'm seeing.

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#245462 - 04/30/12 08:23 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: Outdoor_Quest]
gonewiththewind Offline
Veteran

Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 1517
There is the shadow tip method.

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#245463 - 04/30/12 08:23 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: Outdoor_Quest]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
I always loved that trick but keep forgetting how it works.

I assume you use standard time (not daylight saving).

I wonder: if you have a digital watch (or phone) set to local time, would it work to scratch a clock face and hour hand in the dirt?

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#245465 - 04/30/12 08:28 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: Outdoor_Quest]
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 1060
Loc: Germany
This device doubles as watch and compass:
Pocket sun dial
When using the watch method described by chaosmagnet, donīt forget that during daylight saving time the angle to divide is between the hour hand and the 1 oīclock mark. The method is not overly precise but it is better than nothing. So use it to find a long range target and go for that.
_________________________
If it isnīt broken, it doesnīt have enough features yet.

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#245466 - 04/30/12 08:31 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: gonewiththewind]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2792
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: Montanero
There is the shadow tip method.


True, but test it before relying on it. I was discouraged to find that there was a substantial error factor. Maybe it's a higher lattitude issue? I dunno.

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#245467 - 04/30/12 08:33 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: dougwalkabout]
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 1060
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout

I assume you use standard time (not daylight saving).

For best results use true local time. Everything else might need correction.

Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
I wonder: if you have a digital watch (or phone) set to local time, would it work to scratch a clock face and hour hand in the dirt?

It sure does. With a piece of string you may even get the hour marks fairly precise.
_________________________
If it isnīt broken, it doesnīt have enough features yet.

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#245469 - 04/30/12 08:40 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: dougwalkabout]
M_a_x Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 1060
Loc: Germany
Originally Posted By: dougwalkabout
Originally Posted By: Montanero
There is the shadow tip method.


True, but test it before relying on it. I was discouraged to find that there was a substantial error factor. Maybe it's a higher lattitude issue? I dunno.


It is a combination of lattitude, time of day (itīs good around high noon) and time of year. You may get up to 30 or 40 degrees of systematic error (that is without fouling anything up). Just take a look at the face of a sun dial and you get an idea of it.
_________________________
If it isnīt broken, it doesnīt have enough features yet.

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#245471 - 04/30/12 10:39 PM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: M_a_x]
Russ Offline
Geezer

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 5265
Loc: SOCAL
We discussed this in another thread a few months back. Ottomani Sun compass
_________________________
Better is the Enemy of Good Enough.
Okay, what’s your point??

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#245472 - 05/01/12 01:21 AM Re: Navigation by the Sun [Re: Outdoor_Quest]
Pete Offline
Veteran

Registered: 02/20/09
Posts: 1372
true ... it was discussed before.

my own answer is that it can be done quite accurately these days.
the reason is that there are computer programs and online sites that allow you to get the sun's position at any time of day - and for any lat and long. as a result, you can make a short list of the sun directions at various times, and bingo you've got automatic direction finding. certainly accurate to 5 degrees, and you could probably do better if you worked on it.

of course ... you do need a sunny day :-)

good luck.
Pete2

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