Should you find yourself lost, or for some reason in need of finding directions without a compass, here are four methods you can use to do so.
You can find your way true north by tracking the movement of the sun, in order to use this method you will need to keep some things in mind.
The sun rises in the East and sets in the west, at midday it hangs in the middle of the horizon. Thus while in the Northern Hemisphere when you’re facing the sun at noon, walking directly toward it will take you south. Walking with the sun at your back means you’re heading north. The opposite is true in the Southern Hemisphere.
If waiting until noon is not an option, and you want to find your directions during daylight, an analogue watch with minute and hour hands can serve as a substitute compass. First, make sure the watch displays the correct time. Then, point the hour hand at the sun. Next, holding the watch in place, imagine an angle formed by the hour hand and a line from the 12 o’clock position to the center of the watch. Then draw an imaginary line bisecting that angle. That line indicates south in the Northern Hemisphere. During daylight saving time, create the angle from the one o’clock position instead of the 12 o’clock position. In the Southern Hemisphere, point the 12 at the sun, instead of the hour hand. Then, form an imaginary angle between the hour hand and a line from the 12 to the center of the watch. The line bisecting that angle represents north.
Use a stick and the shadow it casts. The shadow is the opposite of the sun direction.
Grab a 1 meter (1 Yard) stick, stab it into the ground in a sunny area. Use a rock and mark the end of the shadow, because the sun moves from East to West the first shadow represents West. Now wait 15 minutes and mark the next shadow, this is East. An imaginary line connecting the two rocks represents the West/East axis, a perpendicular line will be North South. This will give you a general idea of North.
At night in the Northern hemisphere the North Star Guides true North.
You can find the North Star by first locating the Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellations. Draw an imaginary line from the two “pointer stars” at the base of the bowl of the Big Dipper to the last and brightest star in the handle of the Little Dipper.
To find South in the Southern Hemisphere.
The first step is to identify the Southern Cross – it is a compact group of bright stars close together in the sky with the two Pointer stars always pointing to them from nearby. Then extend the main axis of the Cross from and in the direction of its brightest star by four and a half times its length. You have now reached the South Celestial Pole – the point about which the Cross and all stars turn in the sky. From the Pole drop a line straight down to the horizon – that is south
Keep in mind that you will only get an approximate idea of your directions using these methods, and that once you have established North, or the direction you wish to travel, it is best practice to pick a land mark in the distance that you will head towards prior to setting off. Remember you can recheck your direction at any time should you feel the need to do so.