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Compass Bearings

compass bearings-1In the diagram shown here, the direction of point Y from an original point X is known as the bearing of Y from X.

There are two ways of expressing the bearing of Y from X, namely true bearings and compass bearings.

True bearing

In true bearing, the bearing of Y from X is the angle between the interval XY and the north line as measured in a clockwise direction. In the above figure, the true bearing of Y from X is 030°, which is the angle between XY and the North line.

Note that the true bearing is always given in three significant figures, and is always measured in clockwise direction.

 

Compass bearing

The compass bearing is the angle between the interval XY and the direction line from where it is referenced.

In the above figure, the compass bearing of Y from X is given as –

N30°E. This is read as from North 30° towards East direction going clockwise direction, OR

E60°N. This is read as from East 60° towards North direction going anti-clockwise direction

 

The drawing below shows the compass bearings for the 8 directions. The numbers in brackets are the true bearing readings.

compass bearings-2

 

Now let us look at some examples of writing compass bearings and true bearings.

compass bearings-3Example 1:

Compass bearing of Y from X is N50°E.

And true bearing of Y from X is 050°

 

compass bearings-4Example 2:

Compass bearing of Y from X is E50°S, or S60°E.

True bearing of Y from X is 90° + 30° =  120°

 

compass bearings-5Example 3:

Compass bearing of Y from X is W40°S, or S50°W.

True bearing of Y from X is 270° – 40° =  230°

 

compass bearings-6Example 4:

Compass bearing of Y from X is W32°N, or N58°W.

True bearing of Y from X is 270° + 32° =  302°

 

Now, let us solve some problems in bearings.