The Shadow Stick
A little late now but better late than never. A few weeks ago on the spring equinox we were down at Cotehele teaching on our level two diploma, this was the weekend of the solar eclipse in the UK. The guys attending have to learn about natural methods of navigation as a unit of their Diploma portfolio. This was the perfect opportunity for the guys to carry out the Shadow stick method over a full celestial day as the weather was great, a clear, cloud free sky.
For those who do not know how the shadow stick method works in terms of navigation I will explain. If you were to place a stick in the ground one which is tall enough to reach the average mans chest, then place a marker at the end of the sticks shadow you would have completed your first improvised compass bearing. The first marker you put down is always referred to as a WEST marker whatever happens after this period of time i.e. the next time you put a marker down at the end of the shadow will be an East marker, this can be done over a period of time as short as 10 minutes but the longer you leave it and the more you understand how this method works then the more accurate it will become. Once you have worked out east and west you can work out all other directions as we know that living in the northern hemisphere the sun travels through the southern arc of our sky.
There is much more to this method and I will explain throughout the year and show clear photo graphic evidence of the differences in time of year but firstly here is a picture of the spring equinox.
Here Simon is placing the last marker of the day in the ground.
You can see the clear straight line here left by the suns shadow as it has moved throughout the day on the equinox . When the summer solstice arrives we will do the same as we have done here by marking the sticks shadow through a full celestial day, I will show and explain the difference in the shadows movement.