Sunday, March 20, 2011

Starlight Navigation

(the following article was published in the Spring 2011 'Turtle Tracks' newsletter from Turtle Island Preserve)
The number of people lost in wilderness due to GPS failures is on the rise. Navigation has always been an important part of travel for seafaring folk, backwoods travelers, hunters, and scouts for all of human history. With the increasing likelihood of continued signal disruption due to solar activity, Department of Defense testing, and the glitches that accompany any high technology here are some tips to keep you on track even when the batteries are long spent!

Take a look at the crescent moon. If the moon rises before midnight the illuminated side faces toward the west. After midnight the bright side points east.

Ever learned to see Orion the Hunter in the night sky? The belt of this constellation which is comprised of three distant stars runs on an east/west line.

And last, my favorite, a good reason to sit steady and use your rifle optics or gun sight - lock on any star other than Polaris (North Star), wait a few minutes, and discern which way it's going. Be sure to have the position anchored with a pair of sticks or some steady surface. If your chosen star falls you are headed west. If it rises you are looking eastward. If it curves right you're pointed south, and if it curves left you're headed toward the cold country. And never forget that no matter where you are, there you be!

Spencer Two Dogs
For hands of experience with night time navigation, wilderness wayfinding, and other historical skill sets attend a LOTSWild Scout Camp 2011 - see calendar or visit our webpage