With today’s technology, it’s much easier to spend time outdoors. You can predict the weather to prepare ahead, set up tents within seconds, and never get lost with GPS!
But even with GPS and maps on our devices, we will still need to learn the basics of direction with or without compasses. You never know what may happen, so you have to be prepared, especially if you come across a situation where you have no equipment at all!
So what are the ways to tell directions without a compass? Read on as I teach you how to tell east from west without a compass easily.
How to Tell East From West Without a Compass
Sure, there are a lot of gadgets and devices that can help you find your way back to safety. But when you get lost and lose your equipment as well, you can only turn to nature for help! With that said, these are the ways to tell direction without using compasses.
1. Use Two Sticks At Night
You can use this method at night time.
Find a straight and two-feet long stick and push it to the ground, enough for it to stand upright securely. Sit or crouch by the stick, so the tip will be eye level with you. If you can’t find a good stick, you can try using a tent pole.
Find a taller stick, about three to four feet long with the tip standing above the first stick’s tip. Place the taller stick behind the first, then from the seated or crouched position, utilize the tips of both planted sticks, lining up on one bright star in the night sky.
You might need to move your sticks a bit for it to line with the star well. Imagine a line between the eye, stick tips, and the star. If it’s straight, then the sticks are set up properly.
Now, wait for just a few minutes, giving time for the star to “move.” The star won’t actually move, but the East will rotate, so the star looks like it has moved. This can take five minutes to half an hour.
Once it moves, you will know the direction:
- When it moves up, you’re facing east
- When it moves down you’re facing west
- When it moves to the right, you’re facing south
- When it moves to the left, you’re facing north
- Sometimes, the stay may look like it’s moving in two different directions. For instance, if it moves down and to the left, you are facing northwest!
2. Track the Sun’s Shadow
You need to know the basics about the sun: the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. During the day, it can be a bit easier tracking the direction you’re going to based on the sun.
Tracking the sun and its shadow will require a sunny day (when the sun’s approximately located in the middle of the sky) and take some time, though!
For starters, find a clean patch of land that receives direct sunlight. Find a stick and plant it to the ground. You can see the stick’s shadow afterward.
Mark the tip of the shadow and wait for about half an hour. The tip of the shadow will then move, so you have to mark it again.
Once you have two points, you can connect them by drawing a line. This will give you an idea of whether the direction is east or west.
3. Look at the Stars
If it’s nighttime and you have no sticks or poles to use, you can try finding the North Star.
Identify the Big Dipper which is seven of the blithest stars in the sky. This will rotate around the North Star, which will help you find your direction. The stars look like a dipper, with four of them forming a bowl and three of them forming a handle.
During spring and summer, you can find it higher in the sky while in fall and winter, they are lower and closer to your horizon.
Once you have identified the Big Dipper, use pointer stars to discover the North Star. Imagine a line from the two pointer stars which form the Big Dipper’s bowl. The next brightest star is the North Star.
If it’s hard to find the North Stay, stretch one arm, spreading your fingers. The distance between the North Star and the Big Dipper’s top pointer star should be at a similar distance compared to the thumb to the middle finger.
Now, you will know you’re facing north once you discovered the North Star. This can tell you what direction you are in now, with the east to the right and the west to your left.
Are you still a bit confused about telling directions without using a compass? This informative video can help you out:
Wrapping It Up
Knowing how to tell directions without a compass can save your lives when outdoors. There are different strategies to do so, and they aren’t as tough as you thought it would be. With the right ways, you won’t have to worry about getting lost.
I hope that these ways on how to tell east from west without a compass helped you out. Start learning more about telling directions with and without a compass to stay prepared for anything when outdoors!