Learning to Create a Sundial May Save Your Life
Learning how to create a sundial can be the difference between life and death in a survival situation. Sundials have been a method of telling time for thousands of years. Not only are sundials accurate in determining direction but they are also very simple to create. I am going to show you the most primitive method of creating a sun dial since wilderness survival situations generally provide little resources. Keep in mind that sundials tell us the direction of “true north”, which is the direction of the North Star. True north doesn’t point to North Pole like a magnetized compass.
Items that you will need include two straight sticks (one approximately 3 feet in length, the second approximately 3.5 feet in length) and several 5 inch twigs.
First Step: Clear the area
It is vital that the location you choose to create your sun compass is completely flat and clear of any objects that will prevent the sun from hitting the dial as well as cast shadows over the dial. Making sure the ground is flat is important to the accuracy of the dial since ripples in the floor will distort or obscure the way the stick shadow is depicted.
Second Step: Insert the 3 foot stick
When installing the 3 foot stick in the dirt, make sure that the end of the stick is sharpened to a point so that it will enter the dirt more easily. If the stick doesn’t push in the ground smoothly, use a small rock or some other heavy object to hammer the stick in to the ground. Check to make sure that the stick is inserted at a 90 degree angle to the floor, approximately 6 inches deep in the ground.
Third Step: Use a twig to mark the tip of the stick’s shadow
Once the 3 foot stick is properly installed, trace the shadow to its tip and insert a 5 inch twig at its point. The twigs shadow should be flush with the 3 foot stick’s shadow. After the twig is installed, wait approximately 20 to 30 minutes and mark the 3 foot sticks shadow again. Repeat this process until you have marked 5 or 6 different points.
Step 4: Lay the 3.5 foot stick along the marked points
Use the 3.5 foot stick to lay alongside the marked twig points. This will give you an even better display of the east and west directions. Keep in mind that since the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the first marking will point west and the last marking will point east.
About the Author
Tyler Tebbs loves the outdoors. Some of his favorite past times include fly fishing on the river and hiking the mountainside. Tyler is also the founder of Excursion Outfitters, a company that provides quality and lightweight hiking and camping gear from premium brands such as Julbo Sunglasses or Klymit.
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