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16 Points of a Compass


Boxing the compass is the action of naming all thirty-two principal points of the compass in clockwise order.

Navigational compass

No

Compass point

Abbreviation

True Heading

1.

North

N

0.00°

2.

North by east

NbE

11.25°

3.

North-northeast

NNE

22.50°

4.

Northeast by north

NEbN

33.75°

5.

Northeast

NE

45.00°

6.

Northeast by east

NEbE

56.25°

7.

East-northeast

ENE

67.50°

8.

East by north

EbN

78.75°

9.

East

E

90.00°

10.

East by south

EbS

101.25°

11.

East-southeast

ESE

112.50°

12.

Southeast by east

SEbE

123.75°

13.

Southeast

SE

135.00°

14.

Southeast by south

SEbS

146.25°

15.

South-southeast

SSE

157.50°

16.

South by east

SbE

168.75°

17.

South

S

180.00°

18.

South by west

SbW

191.25°

19.

South-southwest

SSW

202.50°

20.

Southwest by south

SWbS

213.75°

21.

Southwest

SW

225.00°

22.

Southwest by west

SWbW

236.25°

23.

West-southwest

WSW

247.50°

24.

West by south

WbS

258.75°

25.

West

W

270.00°

26.

West by north

WbN

281.25°

27.

West-northwest

WNW

292.50°

28.

Northwest by west

NWbW

303.75°

29.

Northwest

NW

315.00°

30.

Northwest by north

NWbN

326.25°

31.

North-northwest

NNW

337.50°

32.

North by west

NbW

348.75°

 

Before the Magnetic Compass was discovered, early map makers would draw a small 16 pointed circle on the map, and place an “N” to point to North. These were the 16 Cardinal Points from which the winds were thought to blow. This drawing was called a “Wind Rose.” When the magnetic compass came along, it was usually set on top of the Wind Rose pattern in order to help face the nautical chart in the proper direction. The wind rose started to become known as a COMPASS ROSE.

Since the 1100’s, compass bearings have been split into 16 different directions:

This was all the accuracy a Mariner’s Compass had to offer then. By today’s standards, it was not very accurate. As spherical mathematics improved, it became more customary to give bearings in units of “Degrees” from Geographic North. In the 1920’s, it became an accepted practice to indicate direction, called HEADING or BEARING, by a single number (0 to 360) representing degrees of a circle as measured clockwise from True North.


The development of the compass instrument itself represents quite an achievement, however the actual use of this instrument is more of an art form. The Compass is not by any means a complex instrument. Anyone from 9 to 90 should be able to learn compass operation with just some practice and understanding a few simple principles.

 

 



17-Aug-2017 19:21:23