The four CARDINAL DIRECTIONS or CARDINAL POINTS are the directions
north , east , south , and west , commonly denoted by their initials,
N, E, S, W.
* 1 Locating the directions
* 2 Additional points * 3 Usefulness of cardinal points * 4 Beyond geography * 5 Germanic origin of names
* 6 Cultural variations
* 6.1 Northern Eurasia * 6.2 Arabic world * 6.3 Native Americans * 6.4 Indigenous Australia
* 7 Unique (non-compound) names of intercardinal directions * 8 Non-compass directional systems * 9 See also * 10 Notes * 11 References
LOCATING THE DIRECTIONS
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DIRECTION VERSUS BEARING
The position of the
Because of the Earth's axial tilt , no matter what the location of the viewer, there are only two days each year when the sun rises precisely due east. These days are the equinoxes . On all other days, depending on the time of year, the sun rises either north or south of true east (and sets north or south of true west). For all locations the sun is seen to rise north of east (and set north of west) from the Northward equinox to the Southward equinox , and rise south of east (and set south of west) from the Southward equinox to the Northward equinox.
There is a traditional method by which an analog watch can be used to
locate north and south. The
A portable sundial can be used as a more accurate instrument than a watch for determining the cardinal directions. Since the design of a sundial takes account of the latitude of the observer, it can be used at any latitude. See: Sundial#Using a sundial as a compass .
In either hemisphere, observations of the night sky show that the
visible stars appear to be moving in circular paths, caused by the
rotation of the Earth. This is best seen in a long exposure photograph
, which is obtained by locking the shutter open for most of the
intensely dark part of a moonless night. The resulting photograph
reveals a multitude of concentric arcs (portions of perfect circles)
from which the exact center can be readily derived, and which
corresponds to the
While observers in the Northern hemisphere can use the star Polaris
to determine the Northern celestial pole, the
At the very end of the 19th century, in response to the development of battleships with large traversable guns that affected magnetic compasses, and possibly to avoid the need to wait for fair weather at night to precisely verify one's alignment with true north , the gyrocompass was developed for shipboard use. Since it finds true, rather than magnetic, north, it is immune to interference by local or shipboard magnetic fields. Its major disadvantage is that it depends on technology that many individuals might find too expensive to justify outside the context of a large commercial or military operation. It also requires a continuous power supply for its motors, and that it be allowed to sit in one location for a period of time while it properly aligns itself.
Near the end of the 20th century, the advent of satellite-based Global Positioning Systems (GPS) provided yet another means for any individual to determine true north accurately. While GPS Receivers (GPSRs) function best with a clear view of the entire sky, they function day or night, and in all but the most severe weather. The government agencies responsible for the satellites continuously monitor and adjust them to maintain their accurate alignment with the Earth. There are consumer versions of the receivers that are attractively priced. Since there are no periodic access fees, or other licensing charges, they have become widely used. GPSR functionality is becoming more commonly added to other consumer devices such as mobile phones . Handheld GPSRs have modest power requirements, can be shut down as needed, and recalibrate within a couple of minutes of being restarted. In contrast with the gyrocompass which is most accurate when stationary, the GPS receiver, if it has only one antenna, must be moving, typically at more than 0.1 mph (0.2 km/h), to correctly display compass directions. On ships and aircraft, GPS receivers are often equipped with two or more antennas, separately attached to the vehicle. The exact latitudes and longitudes of the antennas are determined, which allows the cardinal directions to be calculated relative to the structure of the vehicle. Within these limitations GPSRs are considered both accurate and reliable. The GPSR has thus become the fastest and most convenient way to obtain a verifiable alignment with the cardinal directions.
The directional names are also routinely and very conveniently
associated with the degrees of rotation in the unit circle , a
necessary step for navigational calculations (derived from
trigonometry ) and/or for use with Global Positioning
An intercardinal, or ordinal, or intermediate, direction is one of the four intermediate compass directions located halfway between the cardinal directions.
* Northeast (NE), 45°, halfway between north and east, is the opposite of southwest. * Southeast (SE), 135°, halfway between south and east, is the opposite of northwest. * Southwest (SW), 225°, halfway between south and west, is the opposite of northeast. * Northwest (NW), 315°, halfway between north and west, is the opposite of southeast.
These 8 words have been further compounded, resulting in a total of 32 named points evenly spaced around the compass: north (N), north by east (NbE), north-northeast (NNE), northeast by north (NEbN), northeast (NE), northeast by east (NEbE), east-northeast (ENE), east by north (EbN), east (E), etc.
USEFULNESS OF CARDINAL POINTS
With the cardinal points thus accurately defined, by convention cartographers draw standard maps with north (N) at the top , and east (E) at the right . In turn, maps provide a systematic means to record where places are, and cardinal directions are the foundation of a structure for telling someone how to find those places.
In mathematics , cardinal directions or cardinal points are the six principal directions or points along the x-, y- and z-axis of three-dimensional space .
In the real world there are six cardinal directions not involved with geography which are north , south , east , west , up and down. In this context, up and down relate to elevation , altitude , or possibly depth (if water is involved). The topographic map is a special case of cartography in which the elevation is indicated on the map, typically via contour lines .
In astronomy , cardinal points of the disk of an astronomical body may be four points defined by the direction in which the celestial poles are located, as seen from the center of the disk.
A line (here it is a great circle on the celestial sphere ) drawn
from the center of the disk to the
GERMANIC ORIGIN OF NAMES
* north (
In many regions of the world, prevalent winds change direction
seasonally, and consequently many cultures associate specific named
winds with cardinal and intercardinal directions. For example,
classical Greek culture characterized these winds as
In pre-modern Europe more generally, between eight and 32 points of
the compass – cardinal and intercardinal subdirections – were
given names. These often corresponded to the directional winds of the
Particular colors are associated in some traditions with the cardinal points. These are typically "natural colors " of human perception rather than optical primary colors .
Many cultures, especially in
NORTHERN EURASIA N E S W C SOURCE
Systems with five cardinal points include those from pre-modern China , as well as traditional Turkic , Tibetan and Ainu cultures.
In Chinese tradition, a five cardinal point system is a foundation
Each direction is often identified with a color, and (at least in China) with a mythological creature of that color . Geographical or ethnic terms may contain the name of the color instead of the name of the corresponding direction. Examples
Countries where Arabic is used refer to the cardinal directions as
Ash Shamaliyah (N), Al Gharbiyah (W), Ash Sharqiyah (E) and Al
Janobiyah (S). Additionally, Al Wusta is used for the center. All five
are used for geographic subdivision names (wilayahs , states, regions,
governorates, provinces, districts or even towns), and some are the
origin of some Southern Iberian place names (such as
Some indigenous Australians have cardinal directions deeply embedded in their culture. For example, the Warlpiri people have a cultural philosophy deeply connected to the four cardinal directions and the Guugu Yimithirr people use cardinal directions rather than relative direction even when indicating the position of an object close to their body. (For more information, see: Cultural use of cardinal rather than relative direction .)
The precise direction of the cardinal points appears to be important in Aboriginal stone arrangements .
Many aboriginal languages contain words for the usual four cardinal directions, but some contain words for 5 or even 6 cardinal directions.
UNIQUE (NON-COMPOUND) NAMES OF INTERCARDINAL DIRECTIONS
In some languages , such as Estonian , Finnish and Breton , the
intercardinal directions have names that are not compounds of the
names of the cardinal directions (as, for instance, northeast is
compounded from north and east). In Estonian, those are kirre
(northeast), kagu (southeast), edel (southwest), and loe (northwest),
in Finnish koillinen (northeast), kaakko (southeast), lounas
(southwest), and luode (northwest). In Japanese, there is the
interesting situation that native Japanese words (yamato kotoba , kun
readings of kanji) are used for the cardinal directions (such as
minami for 南, south), but borrowed Chinese words (on readings of
kanji) are used for intercardinal directions (such as tō-nan for
東南, southeast, lit. "east-south"). In the
Sanskrit and other Indian languages that borrow from it use the names
of the gods associated with each direction: east (Indra), southeast
(Agni), south (Yama/Dharma), southwest (Nirrti), west (Varuna),
northwest (Vayu), north (Kubera/Heaven) and northeast (Ishana/Shiva).
The Hopi language and the Tewa dialect spoken by the Arizona Tewa have proper names for the solstitial directions, which are approximately intercardinal, rather than for the cardinal directions.
NON-COMPASS DIRECTIONAL SYSTEMS
Use of the compass directions is common and deeply embedded in
European culture , and also in Chinese culture (see south-pointing
chariot ). Some other cultures make greater use of other referents,
such as towards the sea or towards the mountains (
* ^ Snyder's Medieval Art, 2nd ed. (ed. Luttikhuizen and Verkerk; Prentice Hall, 2006), pp. 226-7. * ^ Rigge, W. F. "Partial eclipse of the moon, 1918, June 24". Popular Astronomy. 26: 373. Bibcode :1918PA.....26..373R. rigge1918 * ^ Meadows, Peter; meadows. "Solar Observing: Parallactic Angle". Retrieved 2013-11-15. * ^ See e.g. Weibull, Lauritz. De gamle nordbornas väderstrecksbegrepp. Scandia 1/1928; Ekblom, R. Alfred the Great as Geographer. Studia Neophilologica 14/1941-2; Ekblom, R. Den forntida nordiska orientering och Wulfstans resa till Truso. Förnvännen. 33/1938; Sköld, Tryggve. Isländska väderstreck. Scripta Islandica. Isländska sällskapets årsbok 16/1965. * ^ entries 765-66 of the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch * ^ entries 86-7 of the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
* ^ entries 914-15 of the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch * ^ entries 1173 of the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
* ^ entries 86-7 of the Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch
* ^ Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedic dictionary, Kiev, 1987.
* ^ A B "Cardinal colors in Chinese tradition". Archived from the
original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-02-17.
* ^ A B "Chinese Cosmogony". Retrieved 2007-02-17.
* ^ A B C "Colors of the Four Directions". Retrieved 2010-05-16.
* ^ "Two Studies of Color". Retrieved 2008-03-14. In Ainu... siwnin
means both 'yellow' and 'blue' and hu means 'green' and 'red'
* ^ Krupp, E. C.: "Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of
the Sun, Moon, Stars, and Planets", page 371. Oxford University Press,
* ^ Anderson, Kasper Wrem; Helmke, Christophe (2013), "The
Personifications of Celestial Water: The Many Guises of the Storm God
in the Pantheon and Cosmology of Teotihuacan", Contributions in New
World Archaeology, 5: 165–196, at pp. 177-179.
* ^ McCluskey, Stephen C. (2014), "Hopi and Puebloan Ethnoastronomy
and Ethnoscience", in Ruggles, Clive L. N., Handbook of
Archaeoastronomy and Ethnoastronomy, New York: Springer
Science+Business Media, pp. 649–658, ISBN 978-1-4614-6140-1 , doi
* ^ Curtis, Edward S. (1922), Hodge, Frederick Webb , ed., The
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THE EIGHT PRINCIPAL WINDS
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