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How to Find True North Using a Watch

An analog watch can be used to determine the approximate true north and true south.

How to Find True Northern Hemisphere

In the north temperate zone only, the hour hand is pointed toward the sun. A south line can be found midway between the hour hand and 1200 hours, standard time. If on daylight savings time, the north-south line is found between the hour hand and 1300 hours. If there is any doubt as to which end of the line is north, remember that the sun is in the east before noon and in the west after noon.

How to Find True Southern Hemisphere

The watch may also be used to determine direction in the south temperate zone; however, the method is different. The 1200-hour dial is pointed toward the sun, and halfway between 1200 hours and the hour hand will be a north line. If on daylight savings time, the north line lies midway between the hour hand and 1300 hours (Figure 9-8).

The watch method can be in error, especially in the lower latitudes, and may cause circling. To avoid this, make a shadow clock and set your watch to the time indicated. After traveling for an hour, take another shadow-clock reading. Reset your watch if necessary.