Your Latitude, Longitude, and declination is easy to find

Compass - Suunto MC-1With all of the available modern tools — online and printed maps, GPS, Google Earth — it is often useful to be able to quickly determine the exact Lat. and Long. of a location. If you are going to use a compass, you’ll also need the declination of that spot. Here is how to acquire that information easily, accurately, and quickly.

First, to accurately pinpoint the Latitude and Longitude, begin at this site: iTouchMap.Coordinates for Pemberton, BC, Canada It opens with a map of the world and a pointer. Move the pointer close to point that interests you and zoom in. Carefully position the pointer exactly to the location of the coordinates you need. In this example, I picked the junction of highway 99 with the town of Pemberton — this location is central to lots of my local hiking and skiing (Click the thumbs for full-size images). It instantly shows the lat. and long. as both a decimal and in degrees, minutes, and seconds.

Current declination of Pemberton BCNext, if you will be adjusting the declination of your compass, head over to the  NOAA Magnetic Field Calculators and enter those numbers for the lat. and long. When you click on the Calculate button a popup will appear with a map of your location with a compass rose pointing to Magnetic North (the vertical axis of the map is aligned north-south with True North at the top) over your exact position. The information will display the current declination in degrees plus the rate of change per year.

I find that many people do usually carry a compass in their backpack as part of their essential gear. It is such a simple device that I also find that few people practice using it with a map. That’s too bad because trying to figure out where you are, and exactly what bearing should you use is surprisingly difficult in an emergency.

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