Ask the Compass Dude
Just some questions I've been asked by visitors. If you have a questions, use the link at the bottom to ask me and I'll give it a shot.
I don't have a map with me when I go out hunting, but I have my compass. How do I use my compass to hike into the woods a couple miles and then find my way back to my vehicle?
It is not possible.
A compass just points direction. It does not indicate where in the world you are.
If you follow your compass on a heading of 24 degrees for 1 mile, then turn around and follow a heading of 204 degrees for 1 mile, you would theoretically wind up at your beginning location.
But, you are not able to precisely follow a heading. You will drift a bit and the terrain will push you off course a bit.
Going into the wild with only a compass and not a map is foolish. You need to have a compass AND map and know how to use them. Tracking your location on the map and using your compass to show where you are heading will keep you unlost.
How do I determine the opposite direction from the direction I am facing?
Add 180 to your current bearing.
If the result is more than 360, subtract 360.
This number is your opposite direction.
For example, you are facing 240 degrees.
Add 180 to get 420.
Subtract 360 to get 60.
How do you find your latitude and longitude location using a compass?
It is not possible.
A compass only points direction, it does not give location.
A GPS is best for determining your location, as it communicates with satellites, but its batteries will fail.
In the northern hemisphere, you can determine your approximate latitude by observing the angle of Polaris (the north star) above the horizon.
One method to determine longitude is to have a watch with you, set to UTC time and compare that to the sun's position. See this page for a bit of detail.
How do you convert decimal degrees into degrees, minutes, seconds?
12.3456 degrees is the same as 12 degrees 20 minutes 44.16 seconds.
To convert, you:
 Subtract the whole number  that is the degrees (12 degrees)
 Multiply the remainder (.3456) by 60 to find the minutes (20.736)
 Subtract the whole number  that is the minutes (20 minutes)
 Multiply the remainer (.736) by 60 to find the seconds (44.16 seconds)
In a formula, it looks like:

bearing=12.3456
degrees=int(bearing)
bearing=(bearingdegrees)*60
minutes=int(bearing)
seconds=(bearingminutes)*60

degrees=int(bearing)
minutes=int((bearingdegrees)*60)
seconds=(bearing*3600)(degrees*3600)(minutes*60)
To convert from degrees, minutes, seconds into decimal degrees:
 decimal=degrees+(minutes/60)+(seconds/3600)
How do you find the latitude and longitude of a location?
Find location from latitude/longitude or lat/lon from location on this page.
Why are there 360 degrees on a compass?
In ancient Babylon, scientists measured the movement of starts in the sky, counting the days until a star was back in the same location. They found that it took 360 days so they made a 360 day calendar and divided a circle into 360 degrees. That is the foundation for the degrees we use to measure directions now. 
Search Google News for more 'Lost Hiker' news items. 
11 Jun 2024  Hiker found after two days lost on Triangle Peak Trail 
12 Jun 2024  Missing hiker, 74, and dog found alive near Aspen after two days 
13 Jun 2024  NC deputies rescue lost hiker in Brunswick County 
01 Jun 2024  Hiker safe after straying from group near Oneonta Trail area in the Columbia River Gorge 
15 Jun 2024  Second American tourist disappears in Greece as deaths, missing cases rise 
16 Apr 2024  Hiker lost in the Smokies describes experience after medical emergency 
Comments:
Apr 13, 2016  joe cobick
Use latitude 32.362706 longitude 88.2777954
The process is called 'Triangulation by Resection"...and it's actually quite easy once you've done it a couple of times.
I have a 2013 TOYTA RAV 4. I have tried many compass inside the car. The compass points in one direction only,(the same direction) no matter how many turns I make. No one seems to be able to tell me why. TOYTA never replied to my problem. HELP !!! Herb
 Justin
Is declination and issue of taking a compass reading (Azimuth or bearing) and plotting it on a map?
When I plot a route on the map using the protractor then orient the map with compass I still get the same reading with compass or protractor. What an I not getting?
A protractor gives an angle from one point to another with no regard to earth's magnetism. As long as you orient your map correctly, with the first bearing correct, every change in direction after that is just adding or subtracting an angle so you should get the same readings.
By following the steps in the section on triangulation...one is able to determine location on a map using a compass. From that...one can determine the latitude and longitude coordinates of that location. And if using a map grid protractor the lat/long coordinates can be determined with greater ease, speed and accuracy.
Thank you!
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