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Alpha 3rd California
Jason Kim
September 2006
Orienteering Using Nature
Alpha 3rd California
Jason Kim
September 2006
Using the Sun
The sun always rises in the east and sets in
the west, but not exactly due east or due west.
In the northern hemisphere, the sun will be
due south when at its highest point in the sky
(noon), or when an object casts no appreciable
shadow (shadows will move clockwise).
In the southern hemisphere, the sun will mark
due north at noon (shadows will move
Using Shadows
Step 1. Place the stick or branch into the
ground at a level spot where it will cast a
distinctive shadow. Mark the shadow's tip
with a stone, twig, or other means. This
first shadow mark is always west-everywhere on earth.
Step 2. Wait 10 to 15 minutes until the
shadow tip moves a few centimeters.
Mark the shadow tip's new position in the
same way as the first.
Step 3. Draw a straight line through the
two marks to obtain an approximate eastwest line.
Step 4. Stand with the first mark (west) to
your left and the second mark to your
right--you are now facing north. This fact
is true everywhere on earth.
Using the Moon
If the moon rises before the sunset, the
illuminated side will be West.
If the moon rises after midnight, the illuminated
side will be East.
Because the moon has no light of its own, we
can only see it when it reflects the sun's light.
This provides us with a rough east-west
reference during the night.
Using the Stars (the Northern Sky)
The North Star forms part
of the Little Dipper handle
and can be confused with
the Big Dipper.
Prevent confusion by using
both the Big Dipper and
Cassiopeia together.
The Big Dipper is a sevenstar constellation in the
shape of a dipper.
The two stars forming the
outer lip of this dipper are
"pointer stars" because
they point to the North Star.
Cassiopeia has five stars that form a shape like a
"W" on its side. The North Star is straight out
from Cassiopeia's center star.
Using the Stars (the Southern Sky)
Because there is no star bright
enough to be easily recognized
near the south celestial pole, a
constellation known as the
Southern Cross is used as a
signpost to point South
The Southern Cross or Crux
has five stars
The two stars that make up the
cross's long axis are "pointer
To determine south, imagine a
distance five times the distance
between these stars. The point
where this 5x imaginary line
ends is in the general direction
of south
5x down from the Southern Cross
pointing stars is "South Point"
Using Your Watch
In the northern hemisphere,
hold the watch horizontal and
point the hour hand at the sun.
Bisect the angle between the
hour hand and the 12 o'clock
mark to get the north-south
line Note: If your watch is set
on Daylight Savings Time,
use the midway point between
the hour hand and 1 o'clock to
determine the north-south line.
In the southern hemisphere,
point the watch's 12 o'clock
mark toward the sun and find
a midpoint halfway between
12:00 and the hour hand; it will
give you the north-south line
Orienteering Using a Compass
Alpha 3rd California
Jason Kim
September 2006
Nature of Compass Headings
Magnetic North (MN) is about
800 miles south of True North
(TN) the North Pole.
The angle of difference is called
magnetic declination (variation)
which varies from place to place.
True North (TN)
Magnetic North (MN)
Grid North (GN)
San Jose, CA
is 14.952o easterly
Compensating for Declination
When using a compass and
map, you must train yourself
to compensate for declination
using one of these options:
Add (westerly) or subtract (easterly)
the degrees of magnetic declination
provided on the map.
Extend the MN line of declination
diagram in the map margin. Draw
lines parallel to the extension line.
Using these lines, the map and
compass now reference the MN.
Purchase a compass with Geared
Declination Correction that allows
you to set and leave your degree
San Jose, CA
14.952o eastly decl.
Topographic maps include diagrams which indicate the angle of difference between True North and Magnetic North.
1. Align Compass Direction
Mag. Needle
Base Plate
Orient your map to
face North (usually
Point the base plate
from your source to
your destination
Place your compass
on the map with the
edge (as shown)
along the desired
line of travel.
2. Dial-in Magnetic Headings
Map North
Position your compass direction
Turn the compass dial until “N”
points North - usually along the
vertical axis of a map.
Compensate for magnetic
declination by aligning the
orienting lines on the base of
capsule to the magnetic north on
your map.
Read your Magnetic Heading at
the Index Line on the compass
dial in degrees.
Magnetic Heading System: use MN Orienting Lines (with declination)
Map Heading System: use TN Orienting Lines (without declination)
3. Follow your Magnetic Heading
San Jose, CA
14.952o eastly decl.
Verify your current location by
checking at least two distinct
reference points on your Map.
Dial-in your Magnetic Heading.
Hold the compass level so the
Magnetic Needle is free to turn.
Turn your body until the red end of
the needle aligns with the red
Orienting Arrow on the dial (“N”).
Sight a distant landmark and move
specified distance toward it using the
Direction of Travel Arrow.
Repeat this process until you reach
your destination.
(TN for San Jose area: Rotate 15o clockwise or subtract 15o from Map Heading)
Orienteering Exercise
Alpha 3rd California
Jason Kim
September 2006
Orienteering Exercise
Find your current location based on two distinct
reference points on the map. (verify with 3rd)
Determine your pace distance and scale of the
map based on two distinct reference points on
the map. (verify with 3rd)
Mark three vertices to hide your treasure.
(from A: to B: to C: to treasure) {MH/Distance}
Find other's treasure from their coordinates.
(confirm with C: to A: coordinates)