South By the Moon

In doing research for the western I am working on, I have come across a few interesting tidbits I never encountered before. One of them is using a crescent moon to find South.

A great place to learn about this is

Imagine the crescent moon as a pair of bull horns. Now lay a stick across the top of the bull horns. Put an arrow tip on the end pointing down and follow it to the ground. That  is approximate south. Unless you are in the southern hemisphere, then it approximate north.

Not good enough to give directions by, but good enough if you are turned around!

Why does this work? Because the moon is lit by the sun, so in seeing where the sun is shining on the moon, we can guess where the sun is, and take our directions.

You can also use the moon to determine east and west but that is a bit trickier, requiring you to know the time of night the moon rose. If it rose before sunset, the bright side of the moon is to the west. If it rose after midnight and thus sometime before dawn, the bright side will be facing east.

Don’t let it hurt your head, it makes sense. Use a ball and a flashlight if you have to, but you’ll get it.


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