Finding north or south by the moon

Except for a few nights every month, the moon can help you finding north or south direction. The moon produces no visible light of its own. It only reflects the suns light, and herefore, it indicates the direction of the sun.

A rough rule of thumb

finding northAn easy rule to remember is this old navigation trick. However, it is not particularly accurate but at least provides you with a rough guide, and in many situations this is good enough. If the moon is in a crescent phase simply draw an imaginary line through the tips of its "horns" down to the horizon. The point where it touches is roughly South for the northern hemisphere and North for the southern hemisphere.

East - West

direction-by-the-moonYou can also use the moon to determine a rough east - west direction. If the moon rises before the sun sets, the illuminated side will be facing west. However, if it rises after midnight, the illuminated side will be facing east. Why is it so, you may ask?

The earth is rotating on it axis to give us day and night, and we see this as the sun is moving from east to west in our horizon. The moon, for its part, revolves around the earth and goes through a complete moon phase cycle in about one month. During this month cycle, we see different proportions of the visible moon from our position on earth.

When the moon is positioned between the earth and the sun, the moon appears invisible in the night sky. Then, as it moves away from the earth's shadow around sunset, it is illuminated by the sun, which is in its western position. After midnight the moon has reached the opposite side of the Earth and becomes visible as it is illuminated by the eastern sunlight.

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navigation by the moon