Make and Use a Sun Compass

Here's some information resources on conventional magnetic compasses, and instructions on setting up a sun compass if you don't have one.

| May/June 1985

  • sun compass
    Method of setting up a sun compass.

  • sun compass

Anyone who spends much time in the outdoors should carry and learn to use a compass, unquestionably an essential survival tool. There are many excellent books on the subject, including Be Expert With Map and Compass: The Orienteering Handbook, by Bjorn Kjellstrom (Scribner's, 1976), which is currently out of print but should be available in libraries, and Staying Found: The Complete Map and Compass Handbook, by June Fleming (Random, 1982), sold in most bookstores for $4.95.

In addition to honing your skills in the use of man-made direction finders, you may well want to know something about sun compasses.

Use a Sun Compass!

As everyone knows, the sun always rises in the east and sets in the west. It follows, then, that shadows invariably move in the opposite direction — a fact that you can use to plot true north any time the sun shines.

Find a stick about a yard long and push it into the center of a fairly level and brush-free spot of ground. The limb doesn't have to be vertical; you can lean it, if necessary, in any direction that gives you the most convenient shadow.

Once the stick is securely positioned, mark the tip of its shadow with a stone or twig. Then wait 15 or 20 minutes (or until the shadow's point has moved a few inches) and put a second pebble or bit of wood on the ground to denote the new location. Finally, draw a straight line in the dirt from the first marker through, and about a foot past, the second.

Mother Earth News Fair Schedule 2019


Next: April, 27-28 2019
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!


Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

Money-Saving Tips in Every Issue!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters