What Is Prismatic Compass?

Are you curious to know what is prismatic compass? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about prismatic compass in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is prismatic compass?

In the realm of navigation and land surveying, the prismatic compass stands as an essential tool that allows for accurate and reliable directional measurements. With its compact design and intuitive functionality, the prismatic compass has been a trusted companion for outdoor enthusiasts, surveyors, and explorers alike. In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of the prismatic compass, its features, applications, and the techniques involved in using this remarkable navigational instrument.

What Is Prismatic Compass?

A prismatic compass is a handheld device used to determine the direction of magnetic north. It consists of a compass housing, a magnetic needle, a prism, and a sighting mechanism. The compass housing protects the delicate internal components, while the prism enables convenient and precise readings of the magnetic bearing.

Key Features Of A Prismatic Compass:

  1. Magnetic Needle:

At the heart of a prismatic compass lies a magnetic needle, which aligns itself with the Earth’s magnetic field. The needle points towards the magnetic north, providing a reliable reference for directional measurements.

  1. Prism:

The prism in a prismatic compass serves as a viewing mechanism that allows users to read the magnetic bearing while simultaneously sighting a target. The prism reflects the image of the compass card or dial, making it visible to the user’s line of sight.

  1. Sighting Mechanism:

The sighting mechanism, usually equipped with a sighting notch or a peephole, enables users to precisely align the compass with their target. By aligning the target with the sighting mechanism, users can obtain accurate directional readings.

Using A Prismatic Compass:

  1. Setting The Compass:

To use a prismatic compass, start by ensuring that the compass is level and away from any magnetic interference. Rotate the compass housing until the north arrow aligns with the magnetic needle, ensuring proper calibration.

  1. Sighting And Aiming:

Look through the sighting mechanism or peephole and align the compass with the desired target. This involves pointing the compass directly towards the target while keeping the prism in line with the target and the eye.

  1. Reading The Bearing:

While maintaining the alignment, look through the prism and read the bearing indicated on the compass card or dial. The bearing represents the angle between the direction of the target and the magnetic north.

Applications Of The Prismatic Compass:

  1. Outdoor Activities AND Navigation:

Prismatic compasses are widely used in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and orienteering. They provide accurate directional information, enabling users to navigate through unfamiliar terrains with confidence.

  1. Land Surveying And Engineering:

Surveyors and engineers utilize prismatic compasses to determine azimuths, angles, and directional measurements in the field. These compasses aid in mapping, construction, and boundary marking, ensuring precise and reliable survey data.

  1. Military And Defense:

Prismatic compasses have long been employed in military operations for land navigation, reconnaissance, and tactical planning. They allow soldiers to accurately determine directions, plot routes, and maintain situational awareness in the field.


The prismatic compass serves as a valuable tool for precise directional measurements in various outdoor and professional settings. Its magnetic needle, prism, and sighting mechanism enable users to determine accurate bearings, aiding in navigation, surveying, and military applications. By understanding the features and techniques involved in using a prismatic compass, individuals can enhance their navigational skills, explore new territories, and embrace the art of precision in their outdoor endeavors.


What Is Meant By A Prismatic Compass?

noun. : a surveyor’s hand compass provided with a triangular glass prism so adjusted that the compass can be read while taking a sight.

Who Uses A Prismatic Compass?

geologists and surveyors

Prismatic compass: Uses

The employment of geologists and surveyors is commonplace for taking accurate measurements of degrees and angles. To determine the direction of a magnetic meridian, a prismatic compass is used.

What Are The 2 Types Of Prismatic Compasses?

Two types of compass (i.e. prismatic compass and surveyor compass) are most commonly used. A prismatic compass may be defined as a compass that consists of a prism and is used for determining the bearing of traversing and including angles between them, waypoints, and direction.

What Is The Prismatic Compass And Surveyor Compass?

1 A prismatic compass is a navigating and surveying tool that is frequently used to determine the direction, waypoints, and bearing of traveling. Q. 2 What is a surveyor compass used for? Ans. 2 A surveyor’s compass is a tool for calculating horizontal angles and determining the bearing of a line of sight.


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