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Shadow-Tip Methods

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Shadow-Tip Methods

Post  Warloque on Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:04 pm

Shadow-Tip Methods

In the first shadow-tip method, find a straight stick 1 meter long, and a level spot free of brush on which the stick will cast a definite shadow. This method is simple and accurate and consists of four steps:

  • Step 1. Place the stick or branch into the ground at a level spot where it will cast a distinctive shadow. Mark the shadow's tip with a stone, twig, or other means. This first shadow mark is always west--everywhere on earth.

  • Step 2. Wait 10 to 15 minutes until the shadow tip moves a few centimeters. Mark the shadow tip's new position in the same way as the first.

  • Step 3. Draw a straight line through the two marks to obtain an approximate east-west line.

  • Step 4. Stand with the first mark (west) to your left and the second mark to your right--you are now facing north. This fact is true everywhere on earth.


An alternate method is more accurate but requires more time. Set up your shadow stick and mark the first shadow in the morning. Use a piece of string to draw a clean arc through this mark and around the stick. At midday, the shadow will shrink and disappear. In the afternoon, it will lengthen again and at the point where it touches the arc, make a second mark. Draw a line through the two marks to get an accurate east-west line (see figure below).

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