How To: Find south, latitude and longitude with the Sun

Find south, latitude and longitude with the Sun

Learn how to find south, your latitude, and your longitude with only a few household items and some know-how, just by watching this science video tutorial. However, if using the homemade quadrant cited, the precision of your findings will be rather low. Don't worry, you'll be within a few hundred miles though.

If you want to know where you are, chances are you'll use one of these, but we're going to go ahead and focus on using the materials here and the Sun to figure out due south, your latitude, and your longitude. The measurements of time are based on the apparent motion of the Sun, the stars, and the moon. Which means a lot of information is packed into your watch.

Take for instance the idea of noon. Before standardized time zones, noon was simply the time of day when the sun crossed an imaginary line connecting due north and due south, called a meridian.

We could make a clock with an hour hand that went around once every 24 hours, but most hour hands go around twice a day. This means the hour hand moves half as fast as the sun appears to. Meaning if you take your watch and point the hour hand at the sun, halfway between the hour hand and noon is due south. In the southern hemisphere it's due north.

So the next time you need to find south, just take your watch hold it parallel to the ground, point your hour hand at the sun, and halfway between the hour hand and noon is due south. Now that's if you're in the northern hemisphere. Keep in mind, your watch doesn't run local time. So if daylight savings time is in effect, you'll have to subtract an hour, and thanks to standardized time zones, you'll be off by a few minutes. Plus there's the fact that the geometry of the situation means that things will be less precise around sunrise and sunset, but you get the idea.

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