Courses
Courses for Kids
Free study material
Offline Centres
More
Store Icon
Store

Compass: North, South, East and West

ffImage
Last updated date: 09th Apr 2024
Total views: 342.9k
Views today: 9.42k
hightlight icon
highlight icon
highlight icon
share icon
copy icon

Compass Bearings

A compass is a navigational tool used for determining the directions relating to the Earth’s magnetic poles. The navigation compass consists of a magnetized pointer (generally marked on the north end) free to align itself with Earth's magnetic field. The navigation compass considerably enhances the safety and efficiency of travel, (specifically ocean travel). A navigation compass can be used to determine heading, used with a sextant, and marine chronometer to determine latitudes and longitudes respectively.

 

The navigation compass has significantly enhanced navigation capability as it has been recently replaced by modern devices such as Global Positioning System (GPS). A navigation compass is any magnetic device capable of representing the directions of the magnetic north of our planet's magnetosphere.

 

The face of the compass usually focuses on the cardinal points of north, south, east, and west. Usually, compasses are formed as an independent sealed instrument with a magnetized needle or bar rotating freely upon a pivot, or moving in a fluid, then able to point in a north and south direction. Keep reading to know about compass bearing.

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

What is compass Bearing?

The compass bearing is a direction towards which we are headed, as represented by the compass. The four cardinal points on a compass divide the circumference of the compass into four equal parts: north, south, east, and west. As there are 360° in circumference, the cardinal points are expressed as 360°/ 4 or 90°.

 

A compass rose given below represents both angle and cardinal points. The convention used for measuring angles is different from the convention we use in unit circles definition for defining trigonometric functions. The 0 degrees in the compass bearing is marked as North rather than x-axis. Secondly, the direction in which the angle increases is clockwise rather than anticlockwise.

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

Between the cardinal points, the other points that can be seen on compass bearing are:

North

North - East

East

South - East

South

South- West

West

North- West

North

 

Between the Above Points, There are Some Other Points That can be Seen on compass Bearing are:

North

East

South

West

North By East

East by South

South By West

West by North

North - North - East (NNE)

East - South - East

South-South - West

West - North - West

North- East By North

southeast by East

southwest by South

North- West by West

North- East

South- East

South - West

North- West

North-East by East

southeast by South 

southwest by West

North- West by North

East- North - East

South-South- East

West South - West

North- North- West

East by North 

South by East

West by South

North by West

 

The above points divide each 90-degree angle into eight. Hence, the angle between two consecutive points is given as 90°/8 or 1114°.

 

Compass Bearing Types

The two compass bearing types are discussed below:

Standard compass Bearing

The standard cardinal directions are North, South, East, and West as shown in the figure given below:

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

Standard compass bearings are split into 16 different directions around a compass, each located 22.5° apart from the other. If we start from the North Position and move 22.5 clockwise, we reach the NNE ( North - North East) directions. Moving another 22.5°, we reach North-East directions. This continues all the way around the clock, until we move back to the starting point.

 

At 45° between two pure directions, the name of the direction always initiates with North or South, that is North-East or South-West. Directions nearest to a pure direction are named on the basis of which pure direction they are nearest to, followed by North or South, or followed by the direction that is named at first. For example, ENE ( East - North East)  or SSW ( South-South - West) directions.

 

The diagram below represents the angles and names of each of the sixteen standard compass bearings:

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

Other compass Bearing Method

If you are looking for more specific headings, then you can move to the Other compass Bearing method. This angle represents the specific angles in between two of the four more headings such as 22° West. Let us discuss how to find these directions.

  • Initiates with North or South

  • Rotates as the angle required

  • Find that number between the North or South direction or other direction required.


(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

The angle given in the above diagram is 30°. As the general rule is to start with the North or South direction, let’s start with the North direction and find the angle that we need to rotate through to get the read compass bearing. We can see that there are 90° between each successive pure direction. Hence, we will subtract the given angle from 90°.

Therefore, we get 90° - 60°  = 30°.

 

Three Figure Bearings

Imagine, you are stuck somewhere in the middle of the road, and there are no symbols or landmarks to help you to find your way? Do you know how to find your way home? Someone may tell you through the phone to move to your left, or turn through 60°, then start moving, but how will they know which way you are pointing in the first place?

The precise method that can be used to describe directions from a point is three-figure bearings.

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

A compass always points in the North direction. Bearings are always measured in Clockwise directions from the North Line.

 

So, when someone asks you to walk on a bearing of 120°, you should face yourself towards the North, turn clockwise through 120° and start walking.

 

Three Figure Bearing Angles

The angles in three-figure bearings in degrees are measured clockwise from the North direction. It is usual to place 0° to form a 3 digit degrees as shown in the figure given below:

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

In the above figure,

North is shown as 000°

East is shown as 090°

South is shown as 180°

West is shown as 270°

 

Three Figure Bearing Example

An airplane takes off from London Airport as represented in the figure given below:

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

In the above figure, the angle between the north line and the flight path of the airplane is shown as 30°. Hence, we can say that an airplane is flying on a bearing of 30° from.

Compass Bearings

Is this page helpful?

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

 

Compass

A compass is a navigational tool used for determining the directions relating to the Earth’s magnetic poles. The navigation compass consists of a magnetized pointer (generally marked on the north end) free to align itself with Earth's magnetic field. The navigation compass considerably enhances the safety and efficiency of travel, (specifically ocean travel). A navigation compass can be used to determine heading, used with a sextant, and marine chronometer to determine latitudes and longitudes respectively.

 

The navigation compass has significantly enhanced navigation capability as it has been recently replaced by modern devices such as Global Positioning System (GPS). A navigation compass is any magnetic device capable of representing the directions of the magnetic north of our planet's magnetosphere.

 

The face of the compass usually focuses on the cardinal points of north, south, east, and west. Usually, compasses are formed as an independent sealed instrument with a magnetized needle or bar rotating freely upon a pivot, or moving in a fluid, then able to point in a north and south direction. Keep reading to know about compass bearing.

 

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)


An instrument that is used for navigation and direction that is related to the earth’s navigational poles, is known as a compass. The direction to which we are headed, represented by the compass is the compass bearing. The compass enhances efficiency when traveling. A navigation compass can be described as a magnetic device that accurately represents directions of the planet’s magnetosphere. A compass bearing lets us know about the directions. 


Today the navigation compass has taken a significant turn after it has been replaced by the modern device, the Global Positioning System, the GPS.


The four points seen in the compass divide the circumference into four equal parts, namely, North, South, East and West, and since the circumference is 360 degree, the four main cardinal points are always 360 degrees/4 or 90 degrees.


A compass rose that shows direction is a symbol that is found on maps, which shows the four directions, is a representation of both the angle and the main cardinal points.


(Image will be Uploaded Soon)


‘N’ or North is the 0 degrees in the compass bearing, and the direction in which angle increases is clockwise and not the other way round.


In between the cardinal points of N,S,E and W, we see some other points, known as the Ordinal of the Intercardinal directions. These points are North-East, South-East, South-West, and North-West. Hence, there will be 8 points on a compass rose with both the Ordinal and the Cardinal directions.


Types of compass bearing are: 

  1. The Standard compass Bearings that are divided into sixteen different directions round the compass where each of the directions is located at 22.5 degrees apart from one another.


For example, if we start at the north arrow and then we move 22.5° clockwise, we will reach the north-north-east (NNE) direction. Further, while continuing for another 22.5°, we will reach the northeast (NE). This system will continue all the way around the compass until we end up back at the beginning.


When at 45° between two directions, the direction always starts with north or south,  such as north-east or south-west. Directions that are closest to a pure direction are named based on which particular pure direction they are closest to,  and this is followed by north or south, and followed by the first direction named, like either east-northeast or south-southwest.


Not the best option if we need specific directions.


  1. Other compass Bearings Method is  for a specific angle that is in between two of the four main headings, such as S22°W.  In order to determine these directions, we will have to 

  1. Start at the north or south.

  2. Rotate through the angle that is needed.

  3. Pinpoint that particular number between north or south and the other direction that is needed.

FAQs on Compass: North, South, East and West

1.  Does a compass have any limitations?

The compass is known to be sensitive to any kind of magnetic disturbance. A major disadvantage is that the compass is close to the regions that are near the Equator  and this is very far from the magnetic North. If the compass moves closer to any of the magnetic poles, it becomes very sensitive and will not show any direction. In fact, it will move away to some point that is closer to the magnetic compass. A compass may sometimes show inaccurate directions if it is cheap and with inadequate bearings.

2. How were the earlier made compasses?

The compasses that were made when it was invented, were made of a material called Lodestone which was a form of Mineral Magnetite. compasses were shaped like a spoon whose handle pointed toward the South. The Chinese military, in the 11th century, had used compasses for navigation orienteering purposes, and in the 12th century, compasses were used for naval orienteering purposes.

Later on, the compasses were made of Magnetized iron and were known as South Pointing fish which looked like a magnetized ironing fish that floated in a bowl of water, and these were all pointed towards the South.

3. Explain with a diagram the Secondary Intercardinal Directions?

The midway directions seen between each of the Ordinal and Cardinal direction points are known as the Secondary Intercardinal Directions and these have 16 points, which are:

N, NNE, NY, ENE, E, ESE, SE, SSE, S, SSW, SW, WSW, W, NWN, NW, and NNW.

These points divide the 90 degree angles into eight and hence the angle between two consecutive points will be given as 90degree/8

(Image will be Uploaded Soon)

4. What were the earliest compasses made out of?

Earliest compasses were made of lodestone, a specific form of the mineral magnetite. Other compasses were also made of lodestone but were shaped like a spoon or ladle whose handles were made to pinpoint the south direction. In the 11th century, the China military used compasses for navigation orienteering whereas, in the 12th century, it was used for naval orienteering.


Compasses were then made of magnetized iron rather than lodestone and were known as 'south-pointing fish' which was a magnetized iron fish that floated in a bowl of water and pointed south direction.

5. Where can we find a proper explanation and questions on the compass chapter?

Compass is an important subject and it is important to be able to practice some of the important questions in order to be able to score well. Vedantu.com offers these important questions along with answers that have been formulated in a  well structured, well researched, and easy to understand manner. These important questions and solutions are very easily accessible from Vedantu.com and can be downloaded for free. Practicing and studying with the help of these questions along with the solutions enable students to be able to measure their level of proficiency, and also allows them to understand the difficult questions with ease.

6. Where can I  get the NCERT solutions to download?

Physics is an important and tough subject and for students appearing for the Class 12 Board and for all other exams.it is important to be able to practice some of the important questions to be able to score well. Vedantu.com offers these important questions along with answers that have been formulated in a  well structured, well researched, and easy to understand manner. These NCERT solutions are very easily accessible from Vedantu.com and can be downloaded. Practicing these questions along with the solutions enables the students to measure their level of proficiency, and also allows them to understand the difficult questions with ease.