The Natural Navigator: A Watchful Explorer's Guide to a Nearly Forgotten Skill
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Before GPS, before the compass, and even before cartography, humankind was navigating. Now this singular guide helps us rediscover what our ancestors long understood—that a windswept tree, the depth of a puddle, or a trill of birdsong can help us find our way, if we know what to look and listen for. Adventurer and navigation expert Tristan Gooley unlocks the directional clues hidden in the sun, moon, stars, clouds, weather patterns, lengthening shadows, changing tides, plant growth, and the habits of wildlife. Rich with navigational anecdotes collected across ages, continents, and cultures, The Natural Navigator will help keep you on course and open your eyes to the wonders, large and small, of the natural world.
straightforward, but it does pose one big question: If it is a perfect north-south line, then which is which? The answer lies in that friendly angle of 23½ degrees. The sun is never above a point farther north than the Tropic of Cancer. The UK, all of Europe, all of the United States, and a lot of other places on the globe are all comfortably north of the Tropic of Cancer, and so for all these places the sun has to be due south at midday, every day of the year. The shortest shadow in these places
December, the South Pole is tilted toward the sun, and so the sun rises and sets with plenty of south in it. At the equinox neither pole is inclined toward the sun, and so it rises due east and sets due west on these days and these lines are very close to straight. (The equinox lines are never perfectly straight except at the equator, because everywhere else on Earth the sun will pass over a point south or north of the observer at midday and cast a shadow in the opposite direction.) The shadows
to each day of the moon’s phases over a period of a month. Further north, in northeastern Scotland at a place called Castle Frazer, there are rings of standing stones that date from around 2000 BC. Archaeological work has shown that the alignment of these stones is consistent with a thorough understanding of the moon’s cycle. The moon orbits the Earth roughly in a plane from west to east and completes this orbit in a little over twenty-seven days. To make sense of how this appears from Earth, it
Sometimes they are so low that they envelop us as mist or fog, the latter simply being extremely dense mist. The next time you find yourself in a mist, try looking vertically upward. It is surprising how often it is possible to see up through it, sometimes even to a blue sky, or to higher clouds that might be helpful for finding direction. This characteristic of mist is something that can confuse pilots. The runway appears clearly below an aircraft, but a few minutes later, after the pilot has
then Polaris is close to 1 degree to the other side of true north. For example, if Kocab is to the east, then Polaris is close to 1 degree west of true north at 359 degrees. 108 “GHA is not relevant” • It is only not relevant because there is no independent way for the natural navigator to determine what it is. 117 “it is possible to invent your own methods for finding Polaris” • Polaris can be also be found using the constellations of Auriga, Cygnus and Pegasus as well as by linking