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How do you read a compass?

04/03/2009

Basic Compass Reading == == * Hold your compass steadily in your hand so the baseplate is level and the direction-of-travel arrow is pointing straight away from you. * Hold it about halfway between your face and waist in a comfortable arm position with your elbow bent and compass held close to your stomache. * Look down at the compass and see where the needle points.This compass is pointing due North (also 0 degrees)

* Turn your body while keeping the compass right in front of you. * Notice that as the compass rotates, the needle stays pointing the same direction. * Keep turning until the needle points East like the picture below, keeping the direction-of-travel arrow and North mark facing straight in front of you.This compass is pointing East (90 degrees)

* Important: This is a very common mistake! The compass needle is pointing towards East so I must be pointing East, right? No, no, no!

To find my direction, I must turn the compass dial until the North mark and the "Orienting Arrow" are lined up with the North end of the needle. Then I can read the heading that is at the Index Pointer spot (the butt of the direction-of-travel arrow).

Since the Orienting Arrow is usually two parallel lines on the floor of the compass housing, a good thing to memorize is:

RED IN THE SHEDNow we know we are really heading West (270 degrees)

== == == == == == == == == == * You computer screen: ____________ degrees * Your window: ____________ degrees * Your door: ____________ degrees * A lightswitch: ____________ degrees == == == == * Hold the compass level - if the compass is tilted, the needle will touch the clear lid and not move correctly. * Read the correct end of the needle. * Use common sense, such as knowing that if you are heading anywhere towards the sun, there's no way you can be heading north, northwest, or northeast. * RED IN THE SHED! * Keep the compass away from metal objects - even a knife, flashlight, or keychain can cause a false reading if too close to the compass. Woody of North Woods, NJ