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142

The reason is that you could miss your destination and hit a trail and know that you are almost there, but not know which way to turn. So if you were to go straight for the destination, and because of Murphy or errors or whatever and you ended up at either Point A or Point B, you wouldn't be certain of which way to turn to reach the trail intersection. If ...


128

In addition to the case described by Charlie (and to show that I also can make drawings in Paint), there is the case where you want a stopping line to know when you are going too far. This is mainly useful when you are aiming for the end of a feature. The drawing below is with a river bend that you try to reach, but the same principle works when aiming for ...


88

The reason is that it is irrelevant if the map is on an electronic device or on paper - if you misinterpret the information, it won't help you in any way, you will only be lost/stuck more accurately. Similarly, in engineering you first learn technical drawing, even though everything on the job will be with 3D CAD - understanding the content is the goal, not ...


86

The Map is not the Terrain Doubtless you've heard this aphorism, and perhaps it seems out of place for your question but I think it's actually the key point. The aim of the navigation course is to teach you to understand the terrain you are going to be walking over and begin to predict how you will experience the terrain based on the map you are viewing. ...


60

This map (and the Wikipedia article) will explain why you don't have a problem (in the UK, I'm guessing), but others do, elsewhere. In the UK, you can ignore it at the moment, but you need to understand WHY you're ignoring it :) As an aside, compare this with the declination in 1872... Then, the declination error in the UK would have been between 20 and ...


52

Amundsen's team used a meter on their sledges to get close (dead reckoning) and then sextants to confirm the position. Using Amundsen's diary, Roland Huntford (in The Amundsen Photographs) describes the photo as "Shooting the sun at the South Geographical Pole. Amundsen (left) is holding a sextant. Helmer Hanssen (right) is bending over the artificial ...


52

I'll expand a bit on how one would use a sextant to locate the north or south pole. The basic arrangement needs a horizontal reflective plane, for which Amundsen used a pool of mercury. A precisely weighted mirror could work also, but a pool of mercury is more robust and doesn't go out of calibration. Sextant measures the angular distance between two ...


45

Maps and compasses are independent of any power source, so it is usually recommended to take them with you. GPS devices can fail, also because the GPS signal can be switched off or blocked. Alternatives like Galileo work similar to GPS and could face similar issues. So backup devices will not help much. And in an emergency situation, this could end your life....


43

If you look at the current time, and imagine yourself in the center a big analog watch, just place your shadow on the location of the hour's hand. Then imagine the location of the 12 o'clock hand, and exactly in the middle of the angle between those two hands is the north. Be sure to ignore daylight saving time (As the time your hand watch is showing ...


41

I double checked a couple of websites (thanks a lot for the comments to the question) and I'm sure that my compass is not compatible with Australia. As a result of these magnetic variances, the compass industry has divided the earth into 5 "zones", as identified in the map which shows the different zones starting with Zone 1 at the top and ending with ...


38

They don't really pitch it as a replacement for lat/long, but more postcodes and street addresses. A building number and postcode can (and has, IME) have an entrance on a different street, under a flyover, or any number of ways that make it difficult to actually find the entrance to a building. W3W can target a building entrance or location that doesn't have ...


37

A massive advantage of paper maps over electronic is the combination of area and resolution. You can take a bearing to a mast on top of a hill several km away, when zooming out that far on a GPS screen wouldn't even show the hill. If plans change and you have to reroute, rather than following a pre-planned route on a screen, this is really useful, even more ...


36

Compasses are good equipment both spelunking and diving. Even the deepest cave you could go to is still near the earth's surface, geologically speaking. The earth's magnetic field is also essentially the same under water as above. If you are using a compass, what you need to be aware of is nearby magnets and large sources of iron. So if you were exploring ...


34

There seems to be a fixation with North in navigation. Step back to the basic purpose, why do we navigate? We navigate to get to somewhere or to find our way back. Knowing north is just one method of doing such. So predicating navigation on knowing which way is north is unnecessary. North isn't the goal, it's a reference for finding what you really want....


34

Today GPS systems are relatively cheap and widely available. You don't even need a dedicated GPS receiver. For example, I often use a Android tablet with a built-in GPS, and software that can record waypoints and tracks on pre-loaded maps. So the answer is, record the lat/lon coordinates of the spot you want to come back to. It can also help to record a ...


33

If there's a stick around and enough sunlight, I've found the stick method surprisingly accurate: Find a straight stick, around 2 feet long (length isn't that important) and plant it straight in the ground. Mark the end of the stick's shadow, perhaps with another short stick. Wait for about 15 minutes then repeat step 2. Draw a line between the two ends you ...


30

Where your magnetic compass points can be quite far away from the north shown on your map ) For example, on the line marked 30, your compass would point 30 degrees away from true north.


29

Isolation and prominence are the two key criteria to classify a peak as an independent mountain. To understand the meaning I like the visualization from the German Wiki where "Dominanz" means isolation and "Schartenhöhe" means prominence: Isolation is the distance to the next point with the same height (radius) of a higher mountain. So the nearest ...


29

This depends highly on your location. Contrary to popular belief, the difference between the magnetic pole and the geographic pole is not the only reason for declination. As a matter of fact, the magnetic poles are simply defined as the points where the magnetic field points vertically. This is not the same as the pole of a anyway non-existing earth-magnet. ...


26

I'd give them whatever my device or map provided me, and let them convert to whatever their devices or maps use. Anyone used to receiving lat/lon coordinates regularly should be able to convert from various formats to whatever they use internally. You're the one in trouble with limited resources. You're out there with a broken leg, lost, in the cold or ...


26

You need to know if you are in Northern Hemisphere or in Southern Hemisphere or nearby the Equator. If you are in Northern Hemisphere: First locate the Polaris. Its the last star in The Ursa Minor. I've had trouble in locating it sometimes. Many people do. So, if you are in such a situation, try locating The Ursa Major. The Ursa Major is located just to ...


25

With fog, the only thing you're losing is extended visibility. This shouldn't throw off your plan too much, unless you were navigating by watching far away landmarks. If you were on a trail, stay on it. There's no need to wander around. If you can't see anything and traveling is becoming dangerous or you're not sure where you're going, then stop and wait ...


23

What you will want to do is to find which way a star is moving. The way to do this, is to line up two objects pointing towards where the star is currently at, like so. Then wait 15-20 minutes for the star to move and compare its new position to the old one marked by your sticks. As illustrated above the correlation between its movement and the direction ...


21

If you can no longer see any trail signs, the best thing to do is go back the way you came until you find one and start searching in a circle from there. Never continue to go further assuming there is going to be a sign just up ahead. You may be right, however the risk of getting lost and something unfortunate happening is too great. If you become separated ...


21

Magnetic pole The distance from the rotational north pole varies over time -source By the time you read this, the north magnetic pole could be half the circumference of the planet away from the true (i.e. rotational) north pole. Thats over 20,000 km apart. It has been in the past. See magnetic pole reversal and rate of transition. Declination More ...


20

If you need to walk on a compass bearing in poor visibility, stand still, and send someone out in front of you on the correct bearing for a distance (probably as far as you can see). Have them stand still, then walk to them. Repeat. It's slow going, but you will be walking on the correct bearing, and more accurate than just holding the compass out in front ...


19

Basic celestial navigation: In the northern hemisphere, the star Polaris indicates north. In the southern hemisphere, you can use the Southern Cross, see Finding the south celestial pole.


19

The distance between the magnetic north and geographic north poles is not important for navigation purposes. What matters is the angle between them, which is called the magnetic variation or magnetic declination. The magnetic variation varies depending on where you are on earth, and also changes slightly from year to year. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, it'...


19

Having used my Europe compass in America as well as in Australia, I would say you do not need a new one. It will still point one end of the needle to the north and the other to the south, only the south pole is closer to you than when you are home. Edit As pointed out in the comments and the other answers, the direction as given is good enough for casual ...


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