The Moon and Nighttime Navigation

I’ve always enjoyed the moon as a beautiful thing in the night sky, but it’s also been a big help when I’ve needed its light to help me travel in the dark. The moon’s reflected light makes full moon hikes and nighttime skiing adventures possible, and it can also be a helpful indicator of general direction. To understand how the moon can help you find north, south, east, and west, see my article on the About.com Survival Skills site: “The Moon and Nighttime Navigation.”

I went through some photos of nighttime adventures and found several in which the moon’s light made either the nighttime more enjoyable or nighttime navigation more possible. Upper left and below, I took a photograph of the crescent moon at Penitente Canyon in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. Penitente is a nice rock climbing area, and I spent the evening of this crescent moon camping out with a friend, cooking under the stars.

I probably like crescent moons more for their beauty than any other type of moon. Full moons are nice because they offer a lot of light, but crescent moons are just cool. I took the photo of the crescent moon below on the border of Colorado’s San Isabel National Forest, near Leadville. As I lived in a backcountry cabin in this area for four months, I often relied on the light of the moon to guide me home.

One more cool thing? A lunar compass. If, for some reason, you’re stuck out without a compass, and you need some more clues about how to navigate at night, check out this YouTube video, which explains how to use a stick and the moon’s shadows to determine general direction:

Want to read more about the moon and navigation?
Click here to read my article on the About.com Survival Skills site:
“The Moon and Nighttime Navigation”
Sleeping outside under the moon and stars can be a beautiful thing, but if you’re lost at night, you’re probably less concerned about the night sky’s beauty. Instead, you want to know how to use it to guide you home…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.

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