star compass from the knowledge of Pius “Mau” Piailug

Pius "Mau" Piailug's star compass

Pius “Mau” Piailug (1932-2010) was venerated as a master of non-instrument wayfinding. Mau’s traditional navigational system used clues using the sun and stars, winds and clouds, seas and swells, and birds and fish to determine position away from sight of land. He was born on the island of Satawal (Federated States of Micronesia) and learned navigation passed down through generations of oral teaching. This is a representation of a star compass used to teach navigation.

Satawalese name Traditional name Astronomical name
Tupul Setting
Tan Rising
Wuliwulifasmughet North star Polaris
Mailapailefung Little Dipper Ursa Minor
Wylur Big Dipper Ursa Major
Igulig (“Whale”) 1) Cassiopeia (head of whale)
2a) Almach &
2b) Mirach (body of whale)
3a) Hamal &
3b) Sharatan (whale’s tail)
1) Cassiopeia
2a) Gamma Andromedae &
2b) Beta Andromedae
3a) Alpha Arietis &
3b) Beta Arietis
Murn Vega Vega
Marigaht Seven Sisters Pleiades
Uul Aldebaran Alpha Tauri
Paiifung Tarazed Gamma Aquilae
Mailap Altair Alpha Aquilae
Paiyur Alshain Beta Aquilae
Earlier Orion Orion
Sarapool Corvus Corvus
Tumur Scorpius (Top 6 stars) Scorpius
Mesario 1a) Shaula &
1b) Antares
1a) Lambda Scorpii &
1b) Alpha Scorpii
Luubw Southern Cross (rising or setting) Crux
Machemeias Southern Cross (at 45° over SE horizon) Crux
Wuliwuliluubw Southern Cross (upright) Crux
Machemelito Southern Cross (at 45° over SW horizon) Crux


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