Direction is used to determine where things are in relation to other things. Sometimes direction is vague, like when we talk about things being in that general direction. For geographic purposes, direction is more specific.

It can describe position, like in the sentence Susie sits to the left of Adam. Susies direction is to the left of Adam; Adams direction is to the right of Susie. Direction can also describe movement: Susie can walk forward or backward, and she can turn left or right when walking to school.

Cardinal directions are probably the most important directions in geography: north, south, east and west. These directions help us orient ourselves wherever we are. For example, in the United States, San Francisco, California, is west of New York City, New York. If we live in New York, we have to travel west to get to California.

You can use a magnetic compass, which uses the Earths magnetic field, to figure out where you are or in which direction you want to go. Compasses always point north. If you dont have a compass, you can use the sun or the stars. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. So in the morning, the sun will be in the east; in the afternoon, it will be in the west. At night, the North Star in the Northern Hemisphere points north. The Southern Cross, which is a constellation, or group of stars, marks south in the Southern Hemisphere.

The arrow is a universal symbol for direction. If someone needs to turn right at a stop sign to get to the freeway, there will usually be an arrow pointing the way.

direction
The North Star (Polaris) is the last star on the handle of the constellation of the Little Dipper.

Lost?
A simple compass can be made by floating a magnetized needle on a leaf in a dish of water. You can magnetize a needle by rubbing it with silk or a magnet.

cardinal direction
Noun

one of the four main points of a compass: north, east, south, west.

Noun

instrument used to tell direction.

constellation
Noun

group of stars that form a recognizable shape.

Noun

the way in which somebody or something goes, points, or faces.

east
Noun

direction in which the sun appears to rise, to the right of north.

freeway
Noun

large public road for which there is no fee, or toll, required.

geographic perspective
Noun

a way to understand a topic or area using spatial features and relationships.

magnetic field
Noun

area around and affected by a magnet or charged particle.

north
Noun

direction to the left of a person facing the rising sun and the leading direction on a compass.

Northern Hemisphere
Noun

half of the Earth between the North Pole and the Equator.

North Star
Noun

the star Polaris, located roughly above the North Pole. Also called the Lodestar or Pole Star.

orient
Verb

to position or find the location of something.

relate
Verb

to interact with or respond to.

south
Noun

direction to the right of a person facing the rising sun.

Southern Cross
Noun

constellation visible in the Southern Hemisphere.

Southern Hemisphere
Noun

half of the Earth between the South Pole and the Equator.

star
Noun

large ball of gas and plasma that radiates energy through nuclear fusion, such as the sun.

Noun

star at the center of our solar system.

symbol
Noun

something used to represent something else.

west
Noun

direction in which the sun appears to set.