Apr 08

Finding Your Way with a Solar Compass

Dear Readers,

This is a guest post by Jason E. Hill.  If you are interested in more information from him, he can be reached at  No Jokes Survival.  

Please enjoy!


APN State Blog Editor
The Daily Prepper News

Solar Compass

I was out in my yard and was looking at my shadow when I decided to do a quick lesson on Solar Compass.  Basically, you can get a general direction of North by using a stick and the sun.  

Step 1 –   Insert a stick into the ground. One to two feet in length should suffice. The straighter the stick, the better.

Step 2 –  Place a rock where the shadow ends.Solar Compass

Step 3 –  Wait at least 15 minutes…around 30 is better.

Step 4 –  There will be a shadow in a new position now. Place a rock at the tip of that shadow. 

Making a Solar Compass

 Step 5 –  Place a stick, or something straight, across the two rocks.

Making a Solar Compass

Step 6 –  Place another stick, or something straight, perpendicular to this first stick at the middle point between the rocks.

Your solar compass is working!

Step 7 –  Now the point farthest from the original stick (used to make the shadows) will be the direction of North.  This works for people in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it is opposite.

This is just a quick way to get a general idea of your direction if you have a day with sunlight.

Happy Hiking!

1 comment

  1. Jody Huneycutt

    I have a hard time believing this post to be true. Assume, for the sake of ease of making the diagram, that you make a diagram of the end point of the shadow stick for every hour from sunrise to sundown on either the vernal equinox or on the autumnal equinox. This would make the shadow go due west at sunrise and due east at sunset. The points made by the end of the shadow stick at every hour (i.e., on the hour) would trace a flat arc from west to east, with the point made at noon, local time, not daylight saving time, being due north of the shadow stick and, depending on the latitude of the location, a short distance north of the stick.

    If you draw a chord (the line between two points on the arc) at any place on this diagram, except for a chord between the points representing sunrise and sunset, the only ones for which a perpendicular stick will point north will be if the chord goes from points made the same time before noon to the same time after noon. In other words, a perpendicular stick will point north if the chords are from the 11:00 a.m. point to the 1:00 p.m. point; or, from the 10:00 a.m. point to the 2:00 p.m. point; or, from the 9:00 a.m. point to the 3:00 p.m. point; or, the final one, from the sunrise point to the sunset point. For all the others, the perpendicular stick will NOT point north.

    Try it, both on paper and on the ground.

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