What are north, south, east, and west?

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Our planet Earth has an imaginary line running through the middle of it! We call this line the axis. In fact, the Earth rotates around this axis one time each day. At the top of the axis is an area called the North Pole, and at the bottom is the South Pole. North, south, east and west--these are the four main directions, also called cardinal directions, and they help us get where we need to go!

If you want to travel north, head in the direction of the North Pole!  To travel south, start moving toward the South Pole! But what about east and west, which are between the North and South Poles? 

Here are some hints to help you learn the directions: Think of the North Pole as the number 12 on the clock and the South Pole as the number 6. East and west fall sort of in between: When you point to the number 3, you’re pointing east, and when you point toward the number 9, you're pointing toward the west!

When you look at a map, you might see arrows (the "compass rose") labeled "N, W, S, E." These tell you which way the map is oriented in relation to the world -- which way is north, south, east, and west!

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Further information

    Luckily we have tools to help us with our directions. For example, a compass uses a magnetized needle to point to the north. We also have maps that point us in the right direction.

    And we must not forget about nature’s clues! The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Are you looking at a sunset? If so, then you’re facing west!

  • Exploration

    Do you need a little help remembering the names of the cardinal directions? By taking the first letter of each direction and using these letters to create other memorable words, you can give your brain a hint (or four)! Try saying the following phrase: Nine Silly Eagles Wiggling! Now think of the letter at the start of each word. “Nine” starts with “n,” which stands for “north.” “Silly” starts with “s,” which stands for “south.” “Eagles” starts with “e,” which stands for “east.” And I’ll bet you can guess which direction the “w” in “wiggling” stands for!

    You can also try to remember the difference between east and west by knowing that when you're pointing north, their initials spell "WE"!
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