|This page is only applicable if you are in the southern
hemisphere, which means you are to the south of the equator, such as in South America, Southern Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Southern Pacific.
There is no clearly identifiable star to indicate south so some skill and judgement is needed. You need to learn a pattern of stars and remember where is the direction of south in this pattern.
The four pictures below each show the same pattern, but at different times during the night. In each case due south is in the centre.
View 1: The constellation called "Southern cross" or "Crux" is low down. Follow the line to south, which is more or less straight up.
View 2. During the night the whole pattern appears to rotate slowly around the due south direction in the centre.
View 4: After fours lots of 6 hours, a whole day (actually 23 hours 56 minutes) will have elapsed. If you see the cross on its side go sideways to find south.
The above method for finding your direction requires a bit of imagination and is approximate but will work. Alternatives are a compass, which may be badly affected by local variations in the earth's magnetic field of GPS. If you use GPS walk for a while in a straight line and it will tell you the bearing of your direction of walking. For example if the result is 260 deg the you are going about west and need to turn 80 deg to the left. If you carry on you will get a reading of something like 180 deg, which is the bearing of due south. North is zero, east is 90, south is 180 and west 270 deg true bearing. Not that GPS primarily measures your position. it does not know direction till you move.
Page started 1st Dec 2017, amended 1 Dec 2017