Learn celestial navigation
Make sure you learn celestial navigation. It's vital to help you find your way in the back country in the case that you don't have a compass. Celestial navigation is the practice of navigation by the sun, stars, moon and planets.
Using a pocket watch
Navigation by the sun
The simplest and the most fundamental method for the map and compassless natural navigator is to use the sun. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west - roughly speaking. Note: The exact point along the horizon at which the Sun rises or sets varies throughout the year.
When it reaches its highest point at noon, its direction will be either south (northern hemisphere) or north (southern hemisphere). In winter, the sun is lower in the sky so you will notice shadows are long.
A method of finding north and south commonly used and trusted is by means of a pocket watch. Unfortunately, the apparent simplicity of this method may give a very wrong impression as to
its accuracy. Finding a direction with a watch is a rough method of estimation. The pocket watch method can result in up to a 20 degree in error. To get good accuracy you need to have access to a table of the sun's direction. As a wilderness traveler, you probably don't carry this information, otherwise you are a devoted natural navigator.
However, there are times and places where finding direction with a watch will be reasonably correct. The most important things to remember when using this method are:
Only to be used in latitudes between 40 and 60 degrees north or south of the equator, see the picture to the right. The nearer the Equator you are, the less accurate this method is.
The most accurate result wills occur at noon on any day.
Your watch has to be running on accurate local time.
Point the hour hand directly at the sun and then bisect the angle between the hour hand and twelve o'clock. This imaginary line will run north/south. If you are not sure which end of the line is south, remember that the sun rises in the east, sets in the west and is due south at noon for the northern hemisphere.
If you are in the southern hemisphere you instead point the twelve o'clock mark on the watch towards the sun and then bisect the angle between the hour hand and twelve o'clock. Remember, in the southern hemisphere the sun is due north at noon.
Learn celestial navigation, it's vital knowledge for the map and compassless natural navigator.
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