Stars as a Compass kits Preview
There are seven different kits available. Six of them are for specific latitudes of the Earth, and one is for the Whole Earth.
Each kit contains:
The instructions in each kit are different, being specific to the latitude of the kit. We have included the instructions from the Whole Earth kit on this preview page as they give the most comprehensive overview of the methods we use.
We have also included all of the posters from all of the kits and a representative sample of the worksheets. Please note that the previews that you see on this web page are low-resolution web graphics. Subscribers can download these posters as high quality printer-ready files which are suitable for printing at Letter/A4 size and can be enlarged on a photocopier to Tabloid/A3 size.
Whole Earth Kit Instructions and Posters
Search the skies for one of the three groups: the Southern Cross, Big Dipper or Cassiopeia. From most locations, most of the time, you will be able to find one of them. If you cannot find any of them you may have to wait an hour or two for one of them to rise. At such times you will need low northern and southern horizons. As soon as you have found one of these groups of stars, you can use it to find either north or south.
Finding the Big Dipper
The big dipper is a very distinctive shape made from seven particularly bright stars. Once you know the shape, you will not easily mistake it.
However, there is a key that lets you check that you have the right stars.
The second handle star is actually two stars very close together.
Look for this double star if you see it, you are looking at the Big Dipper.
Unfortunately the second star of the double will not always be visible from a
city because of the amount of light coming from streetlights. If this is the
case, you will have to rely on the distinctive shape of the Big Dipper.
Cassiopeia is a distinctive shape made from five bright stars. They form a wonky W.
To be sure that you have found the right stars, look for the sixth star.
The sixth star can be seen on one of the middle arms of the W.
If you are looking from a city this star might be very faint,
or even impossible to see, due to the amount of light coming
from streetlights. If this is the case, you will have to rely
on Cassiopeia's distinctive shape.
Finding the Southern Cross
There are many crosses in the skies, so check these keys before deciding you have found the Southern Cross. The two keys to finding the Southern Cross are:
Whole Earth Kit Hunt the Poles Worksheets
These worksheets allow you to practise finding the star groups used in direction finding. The cut-out hands allow you to practise using the method for finding the poles. These worksheets are remarkably effective with students of all ages providing genuine star-finding practice with a simple photocopied resource.
We have previewed one "Hunt the Pole Star" and one "Hunt the Southern Cross" worksheet here. The complete sets consist of 8 worksheets each, with the stars in different places. Please note that the downloadable worksheets show much more detail than we are able to include in these web graphics.
Whole Earth Kit Computer Challenge Worksheets
Mirapla Sky for Windows allows you to practise finding the star groups used in direction finding using an accurate computer-synthesised night sky. The cut-out hands allow you to practise using the method for finding the poles.
Instructions for the Whole Earth (kit G)
The cut-out hands come from this worksheet:
Copyright © C J Hilder, 2002. All rights reserved.