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Moon Navigation

How can you find your way if you are lost at night and do not have a compass or GPS?

It’s common to navigate in the wilderness by using the sun or the stars, however, if it is a cloudy night and you can’t clearly see the constellations, using the moon is also a useful navigation tool. If it is a crescent moon, it is particularly easy.

To Find South during a Crescent Moon

moon navigation

  1. Imagine a line connecting the endpoints of the moon’s crescent and project it to the horizon.
  2. This imaginary line where it touches the horizon points to South if you are in the Northern Hemisphere (the majority of the population). This point indicates North if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, such as New Zealand.

The reason this works is because the moon reflects light from the sun. Like the sun, the moon travels east to west as it moves across the sky. The shape of the moon and the reflected light changes as it orbits around the earth in its 28-day circuit.

You don’t have to wait until dark to navigate using the moon

You may also see the moon in the sky before the sun has set. In this case, look at the illuminated side of the late afternoon moon. The light will point toward the west.

See our other blog post for more information about moon navigation.

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