How can we define a compass rose?

A compass rose definition can be as follows: a figure used in order to display the orientation in eight (or more) principal directions. Not every helpful, huh? Think of a magnetic compass rose as a type of scale you can use on a compass, a map or a chart in order to help reader to understand in which direction it’s oriented. Compass roses are also used in modern navigation devices, like GPS.

A compass rose is also known as windrose or Rose of the Winds, taking its name from eight principal winds, as traditional compasses were using names of winds, instead of names of directions. The winds were:

  1. Tramontane – North
  2. Grecale – North-East
  3. Levante – East
  4. Sirocco – South-East
  5. Ostro or Mezzogiorno – South
  6. Libeccio or Garbino – South-West
  7. Ponente – West
  8. Mistral – North-West

Types of compass rose – definition

There are 3 primary compass rose types:

  • 4-point compass rose – this type of rose points in four cardinal directions: East, West, North and South.
  • 8-point compass rose – this type of rose included 8 directions: 4 cardinal and 4 ordinal, which can be marked between cardinal directions; North-East, South-East, South-West, North-West.
  • 16-point compass rose – this type of rose furthers divides the spaces between 8 cardinal and ordinal directions in a half, making it 16 directions in total. The names of new directions created this way are created by combining names of principal direction together with principal-ordinal direction name, like West-southwest (WSW).