Survival Friday: Excerpt from The Green Beret Survival Guide and from FM 3-05.70 (my comments are italicized)  SurvivalFinal

Using the sun and shadows

The earth’s relationship to the sun can help you to determine direction on earth. The sun always rises in the east and sets in the west, but not exactly due east or due west. There is also some seasonal variation. In the northern hemisphere, the sun will be due south when at its highest point in the sky, or when an object casts no appreciable shadow. In the southern hemisphere, this same noonday sun will mark due north. In the northern hemisphere, shadows will move clockwise. Shadows will move counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. With practice, you can use shadows to determine both direction and time of day. The shadow methods used for direction finding are the shadow-tip and watch methods.  (Start paying attention to where the sun rises and sets where you live.  You will notice how it shifts north and south on the horizon with the seasons).

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 east 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

Figure 18-1

The Watch Method

You can also determine direction using a common or analog watch—one that has hands. The direction will be accurate if you are using true local time, without any changes for daylight savings time. Remember, the further you are from the equator, the more accurate this method will be. If you only have a digital watch, you can overcome this obstacle. Quickly draw a watch on a circle of paper with the correct time on it and use it to determine your direction at that time.

In the northern hemisphere, hold the watch horizontal and point the hour hand at the sun. Bisect the angle between the hour hand and the 12 o’clock mark to get the north-south line (Figure 18-2). If there is any doubt as to which end of the line is north, remember that the sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and is due south at noon. The sun is in the east before noon and in the west after noon.

Figure18-2

Note: If your watch is set on daylight savings time, use the midway point between the hour hand and 1 o’clock to determine the north-south line.

In the southern hemisphere, point the watch’s 12 o’clock mark toward the sun and a midpoint halfway between 12 and the hour hand will give you the north-south line.

Using the Moon

Because the moon has no light of its own, we can only see it when it reflects the sun’s light. As it orbits the earth on its 28-day circuit, the shape of the reflected light varies according to its position. We say there is a new moon or no moon when it is on the opposite side of the earth from the sun. Then, as it moves away from the earth’s shadow, it begins to reflect light from its right side and waxes to become a full moon be- fore waning, or losing shape, to appear as a sliver on the left side. You can use this information to identify direction.

If the moon rises before the sun has set, the illuminated side will be the west. If the moon rises after midnight, the illuminated side will be the east. This obvious discovery provides us with a rough east-west reference during the night.

Using the Stars

Your location in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere determines which constellation you use to determine your north or south direction.

The Northern Sky

Figure18-3The main constellations to learn are the Ursa Major, also known as the Big Dipper or the Plow, and Cassiopeia (Figure 18-3). Neither of these constellations ever sets. They are always visible on a clear night. Use them to locate Polaris, also known as the polestar or the North Star. The North Star forms part of the Little Dipper handle and can be con- fused with the Big Dipper. Prevent confusion by using both the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia together. The Big Dipper and Cassiopeia are always directly opposite each. other and rotate counterclockwise around Polaris, with Polaris in the center. The Big Dipper is a seven star con- stellation in the shape of a dipper. The two stars forming the outer lip of this dipper are the “pointer stars” because they point to the North Star. Mentally draw a line from the outer bottom star to the outer top star of the Big Dipper’s bucket. Extend this line about five times the distance between the pointer stars. You will find the North Star along this line.

Cassiopeia has five stars that form a shape like a “W” on its side. The North Star is straight out from Cassiopeia’s center star. After locating the North Star, locate the North Pole or true north by drawing an imaginary line directly to the earth.

The Southern Sky

Figure18-4Because there is no star bright enough to be easily recognized near the south celestial pole, a constellation known as the Southern Cross is used as a sign post to the South (Figure18-4).

The Southern Crossor Crux hasfivestars. Its four brightest stars form a cross that tilts to one side. The two stars that make up the cross’s long axis are the pointer stars. To determine south, imagine a distance five times the distance between These stars and the point where this imaginary line ends is in the general direction of south. Look down to the horizon from this imaginary point and select a landmark to steerby. In a static survival situation you can fix this location in daylight if you drive stakes in the ground at night to point the way.

Making Improvised Compasses

I’m omitting this section because there is some disagreement whether the methods work.  Between the sun, the moon and the stars, I think you can get a good enough idea of direction.  On top of that, you should be able to orient your map to the terrain.  And you should have a compass in every G&G bag you have.  And a compass tied off to you with a dummy cord.  Here is the Suunto M-3 D/L Pro Compass:  http://goo.gl/EsHXU

More on Navigation.

Water flows downhill.  Really.

Know which side of the Continental Divide you are on.  And both of North America’s main mountain ranges have Divides.  The Rockies and the Appalachian Mountains have divides.  Study a map of your region.  What are the major streams and rivers?  Where do they join?  How many bridges cross them?  Where?

Remember, bridges are chokepoints.

Do you have dams in your area?  Just today a dam collapsed during Hurricane Sandy.

Are there any significant terrain features in your area that are noticeable from a distance?  Pilots Peak in Utah was a landmark for many people traveling west.

Know your pace count.  This is how many times your right foot hits the ground per one hundred meters.  This allows you to stay oriented.  You can go to the local high school and pace off one hundred yards, which is close to one hundred meters (a yard is slightly longer).  But remember, that will be on flat ground.  Pace count changes greatly when you move through rough terrain.