Traveler's Test

How to determine the direction using only the sun (and a random stick)

How to determine the direction using only the sun (and a random stick)

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The challenge: learn to use the sun as your sole guiding point, wherever you are on Earth

Using the sun as a guiding point may save your life in the wilderness, backwoods, the Sahara or any other place where you find yourself lost and without a compass (or, of course, Google Maps). Its also an essential skill if your compass fails you. Above all, this give you the chance to brag about your incredible survival skills to friends and strangers.


1 x sun

1 x long, straight object (a stick)


15-20 minutes


Take a long, straight object (1 m/3.5 ft long is perfect!)  – a stick is best, but you can also use a ski pole or whatever straight object you have at hand in the above-mentioned wilderness, where you might not have many options. In the worst case scenario, you could be the straight object”, but we doubt you would be willing to stand still for 20 minutes under the sun.

Insert the object into the ground at an angle of 90 degrees (it is important for the angle to be as close to 90 degrees as possible) and mark the end of the objects shadow with a pebble or twig. Wait for 15-20 minutes: in that time, the shadow will move. Take another pebble and mark the new end of the shadow. Draw a straight line between the start and end point of the shadow’s movement (the two pebbles). This line points east–west: the first point is west and the second is east.

If you stand with your left shoulder pointing west and your right shoulder pointing east, then you will be facing north, while south will be directly behind you.

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