How to know the cardinal points (north, south east and west)

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How to know the cardinal points if you have gotten lost? If you ever get lost and do not know how to orient yourself, today we show you how to easily locate the cardinal points (north, south, east, west) so that you can return home.

We offer you 4 possibilities that you can use depending on the time of day and your knowledge.

When it dawns

If you are lost first thing in the morning you should be very attentive to when the sun rises. The sun rises in the east and thanks to that information you can already determine the rest of the cardinal points: if you face the sun, it will be east, west will be behind you, north on your left and south on your right. .


For the day

Whatever the time, if you can’t determine the east exactly thanks to sunrise, you can orient yourself thanks to the shadows.

1. Find a stick or a branch or any object that can give you a straight shadow.

2. Place the stick in an upright position, sinking the lower part into the ground and looking for the shade.

3. Make a mark or place a small stone at the end of the shadow that the stick is casting.

4. Wait 10-15 minutes and now find the end of the shadow and place another stone or make another mark.

5. Now, if you join the two marks or stones with a line drawn on the ground, you will already have the east and west cardinal points defined as follows: the first stone will mark the west and the second stone the east. This is because, as we have said, the sun rises in the east and therefore the shadows go in the opposite direction, from west to east.

Now you can also determine the other cardinal points, north and south: the north is to the right of the west and facing the north, the south will be.


In the afternoon

If the sun is about to disappear from the sky, take a good look at it. As we have said, the sun sets in the west and by determining that cardinal point, you can already define the other 3.


In the evening

If the sun cannot be your ally, take advantage of the information that the stars give you.

Here it is important to know a little about the constellations and take into account if you are in the northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere or the equator.

In the northern hemisphere you must look for the Pole Star, the last star at the tip of the constellation Ursa Minor. That star will show you the north. Draw an imaginary line from the star to the ground and there you will have the direction to the north.


In the southern hemisphere you should look for the Southern Cross. Its four brightest stars form a cross. Identify the two stars that form the longest axis, draw an imaginary line from that axis to the right and until it reaches the ground. About halfway there will be the south.


At the equator you must look for the constellation Orion. The ‘Orion belt’ is made up of three stars. Look for the central star and it will indicate approximately north.


Good luck on your adventurous trips and just in case… don’t leave the compasses at home.

Picture: Luis Perez, Miquel González Page, uigers, Manuel Romero

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