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A 16-point compass rose
A 32-point compass rose
A historical compass card

Boxing the compass is the action of naming all thirty-two principal points of the compass in clockwise order. Such names, formed by the initials of the cardinal directions and their intermediate ordinal directions, are accepted internationally, even though they have their origin in the English language, and are very handy to refer to a heading (or course or azimuth) in a general or colloquial fashion, without having to resort to computing or recalling degrees.

The set of 32 named points can be further divided into a set of 128 named directions using quarter-points,[1] although for communicating heading these fractional points have been superseded by degrees measured clockwise from North.

Contents

Compass points

A simple algorithm can be used to convert a heading to an approximate compass point:

  1. Divide the heading in degrees by 11.25 (360/32) to get to the case of 32 named points.
  2. Add 1.5 to center the named points in their respective sectors on the circle, since north is 1 in the table instead of 0. If the result is 33 or more, subtract 32 to keep within the 32-point set.
  3. Now look up the integer part of the result in the table below.

For example:

A heading of 75°, divided by 11.25 gives 6.67, added to 1.5 gives 8.17, truncated to give 8. 8 in the table below corresponds to east by north.

# Compass point Abbr. Traditional wind point Lowest Middle Highest
1 North N Tramontana 0.00° 5.62°
2 North by east NbE 5.63° 11.25° 16.87°
3 North-northeast NNE 16.88° 22.50° 28.12°
4 Northeast by north NEbN 28.13° 33.75° 39.37°
5 Northeast NE Greco or Bora 39.38° 45.00° 50.62°
6 Northeast by east NEbE 50.63° 56.25° 61.87°
7 East-northeast ENE 61.88° 67.50° 73.12°
8 East by north EbN 73.13° 78.75° 84.37°
9 East E Levante 84.38° 90.00° 95.62°
10 East by south EbS 95.63° 101.25° 106.87°
11 East-southeast ESE 106.88° 112.50° 118.12°
12 Southeast by east SEbE 118.13° 123.75° 129.37°
13 Southeast SE Sirocco 129.38° 135.00° 140.62°
14 Southeast by south SEbS 140.63° 146.25° 151.87°
15 South-southeast SSE 151.88° 157.50° 163.12°
16 South by east SbE 163.13° 168.75° 174.37°
17 South S Ostro 174.38° 180.00° 185.62°
18 South by west SbW 185.63° 191.25° 196.87°
19 South-southwest SSW 196.88° 202.50° 208.12°
20 Southwest by south SWbS 208.13° 213.75° 219.37°
21 Southwest SW Libeccio 219.38° 225.00° 230.62°
22 Southwest by west SWbW 230.63° 236.25° 241.87°
23 West-southwest WSW 241.88° 247.50° 253.12°
24 West by south WbS 253.13° 258.75° 264.37°
25 West W Poniente or Zephyrus 264.38° 270.00° 275.62°
26 West by north WbN 275.63° 281.25° 286.87°
27 West-northwest WNW 286.88° 292.50° 298.12°
28 Northwest by west NWbW 298.13° 303.75° 309.37°
29 Northwest NW Mistral 309.38° 315.00° 320.62°
30 Northwest by north NWbN 320.63° 326.25° 331.87°
31 North-northwest NNW 331.88° 337.50° 343.12°
32 North by west NbW 343.13° 348.75° 354.37°
1 North N Tramontana 354.38° 360.00°

See also

References

  1. ^ Great War Primary Documents Archive, "Boxing the Compass" Accessed November 12, 2008

External links

  • Wind Rose – discusses the origins of the names for compass directions.
  • Compass Rose – Actual Compass Roses for the Home.
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