Since ancient times, a solar landmark has helped a person to find the right side of the world, to go to the intended point of any terrain, not to get lost in natural conditions without any navigation devices. Today, in the same way, to correctly plot the intended route and not to stray, the orientation by the sun will help.
- Orientation by the sun
- 1.1 Methods of orientation on the ground by the sun: the use of hours
- 1.2 Orientation on the ground by the sun: sundial
- 1.3 Solar orientation in overcast weather
Orientation by the sun
It would seem that everyone knows how to correctly and simply define the east and west: the sun rises and sets in these sides of the horizon. But, this is not entirely accurate. In order to correctly determine the desired direction, it is necessary to take into account your location – the southern hemisphere or the northern one, since the place of sunrise and sunset, along which you can navigate, differs. Thus, in the Northern Hemisphere, the star rises in the east and rolls in the west only on March 21 and September 23 — these are the days of the spring and autumn equinox. After March 21, the place of sunrise shifts closer to the north, and on the day of the summer solstice (June 21) it rises to the northeast and sets to the northwest, because on this day the north pole is as close as possible to the planet Sun. When the winter season is approaching, the light comes closer to the south, on the day of the winter solstice (December 22) the sunrise occurs in the southeast, and the sunset in the southwest. Accordingly, with regards to the Southern Hemisphere, sunrise and sunset occur with the exact opposite about North.
If there is no mechanical watch at hand, you can use the natural “dial”.
Methods of orientation on the ground by the sun: the use of hours
There are various ways to orient by the sun. One of the most accurate is the orientation on the terrain with the help of a mechanical clock (they must be horizontally positioned). It is known that at noon, i.e. when the hour hand shows 12 o’clock, the sun is in the south. During the time when the hour hand makes two turns on the dial, the sun makes one in the sky. This will help navigate when searching for a southern direction. A simple calculation shows that for the same period of time, the star shifts by an angle that is two times smaller than the hour hand.
The second version of this method is more accurate, but you can use it if you have more time. The observation begins before the star enters the zenith:
- A long stick is inserted into the ground, as in the first case, the first mark is made.
- A rope is drawn between the base of the pole and the first mark, starting from this mark, a semicircle is drawn on the ground.
- While the sun rises, the time is nearing noon, the shadow of the stick will become shorter, moving away from the border of the outlined arc. The shadow moves eastward. When the sun goes over the zenith, the shadow of the stick will begin to grow until it touches the drawn arc again. This place should be marked with the second mark.
- Both labels are connected by a straight line, and in order to determine the northern direction, it is necessary to stand in the same position, similar to the previously described variant.
The easiest way, by analogy with the methods listed above, is as follows: it is necessary to stand with your back exactly at noon towards the direction of sunlight, to open your hands to the right and to the left. The falling shadow will indicate the north direction, behind will be south, on the right hand – east, on the left hand – west. Do not forget that, in the southern hemisphere, the falling shadow, on the contrary, indicates the southern direction.
Solar orientation in overcast weather
Orientation on the terrain by the sun is possible even in cloudy weather. It is carried out with the help of shadows that cast objects in the summer, even in the absence of sunlight. This method allows you to define an east-west line.
It is necessary to stick a long stick (about forty centimeters) into the ground so that it does not cast a shadow: this means that its tip indicates the sun. Next, you need to wait until it begins to cast a shadow again, and as the shadow moves, spread the stones where the end of the stick on the ground indicated. Thus, it turns out that the shadow will move from west to east, from the first pebble to the second. The north-south line is determined perpendicular to the west-east line.
Orientation by the sun is possible even after its sunset: on summer nights, with respect to northern latitudes, from a close location to the horizon of a incoming luminary, the northern side of the sky becomes lighter and the southern side becomes darker.
Despite the apparent complexity, methods of orientation on the terrain relative to the daylight allow you, without looking up from your hike, to be determined with the correct direction relative to the cardinal points, familiar objects, and also to determine your own location relative to settlements or familiar landmarks. It is only necessary to take into account the correctness of the calculations, as well as the decree time.