Azimuth vs Bearing: Difference and Comparison

Azimuth and Bearings are kinds of angles that are used in surveying. Azimuth is a kind of bearing. Both of them are different, and the measurement of the angle differs in both cases. Both have a different range of values.

There are many differences between Azimuth and Bearing. Azimuth uses numerical representation. Bearing uses an alphanumeric presentation for its values.

Key Takeaways

  1. Azimuth is the angle between the north direction and the point of interest, while the bearing is the angle between the north direction and the direction in which an object is located.
  2. Azimuth is measured in degrees, while the bearing is measured in degrees or mils.
  3. Azimuth is commonly used in land navigation and surveying, while the bearing is used in marine and aviation navigation.

Azimuth vs Bearing

Azimuth refers to the angle between the observer’s direction of reference and the direction of the object of interest, measured clockwise from north. Bearing refers to the angle between the observer’s direction of reference and the direction of the object of interest, measured clockwise.

Azimuth vs Bearing

Azimuth is a type of bearing. Azimuth takes a set of measurements from North or South. It is also one type of bearing. It is also known as the whole circle-bearing system. It is also used in many fields, like surveying.

It starts measuring in the North direction. Astronomers and the military tend to use Azimuths from the South direction.

Bearing is an angle that is the measurement between the reference meridian and the given line. The representation of Bearing is very much different from the Azimuth. It starts from North or South, then the degree, and then east or west.

The degree is always less than 360 degrees. The magnetic meridian is calculated using the needle of the compass.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAzimuthBearing
Angle Range0 to 360 degrees0 to 90 degrees
RepresentationNumericalAlphanumerical
Direction of MeasurementClockwiseAnticlockwise
Ruleset of points from North or SouthAngles in North or South
UsageHorizontal Plane measurementAngle Measurement
ApplicationsDelicate SurveysSpecific purpose surveys

What is Azimuth?

Azimuth has its origin in the Arabic word, which means direction. It refers to horizontal angles. These angles measurement begin from the reference median. This measurement takes place in a clockwise direction. These are mostly used in doing surveys.

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It helps in compass and plane surveying. The measurement begins from the North direction. Astronomers and the Military begin their measurement from South Direction.

The lines always have a range of values from 0 to 360 degrees. There can be many types of Azimuths. They are geodetic, magnetic or astronomic.

It is a rule that the reference median should be stated at the beginning of the survey. This is done to avoid mistakes in the measurement. The measurement is done by forwarding azimuth and a backward azimuth.

The forward azimuth declares the forward direction, but the backward Azimuth refers to the reverse direction. It is also used in many other areas, such as control surveys, topographic surveys, and others.

The angle is the measure of deviation from North or South. This is the horizontal angle measurement from a fixed point to the direction of the object. Celestial navigation uses Azimuth for all the angle measurements.

azimuth

What is Bearing?

Bearing refers to an acute angle. The angle is between the reference meridian and the given line. The measurement begins from North or South and then goes towards East or West. The angle will always be less than 360 degrees. The angle is represented by an alphanumeric.

There are many types of bearing available. A local magnetic meridian is used to measure a magnetic bearing. A grid meridian is considered for the measurement of grid bearing, and a geodetic meridian for geodetic bearing.

The needle of the compass is used for measuring the magnetic meridian. Bearing is also written in mils or degrees. This is also used for general purposes. Bearing is used for angle measurement. This is the same as Azimuth.

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Bearing is used for specific purposes of surveys. They are represented by cardinal directions. It starts with North or South and then the angle and at last ends with East or West. This East or West denotes the quadrant. Bearing is always done with respect to North or South angle lines.

The measurements always occur clockwise in North-East and South-West, representing the first and third quadrants. It takes anticlockwise measurements in North-West and South-East directions which are the second and fourth quadrants.

Main Differences Between Azimuth and Bearing

  1. Azimuth measures angle from 0 to 360 degrees, whereas Bearing measures angle from 0 to 90 degrees.
  2. Azimuth is denoted through numerical value, but Bearing is denoted through alphanumeric values.
  3. Azimuth measures clockwise, but Bearing can measure in both directions, either clockwise or anticlockwise.
  4. Azimuth takes a set of measurements from North or South, whereas Bearing measures angles from North or South. 
  5. Azimuth is used for horizontal plane measurement, but Bearing is used for angle measurement.
  6. Azimuth is used for specific important, delicate surveys, whereas Bearing is used for specific purpose applications.
References
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/249120/
  2. https://ascelibrary.org/doi/abs/10.1061/AJGEB6.0000243

Last Updated : 14 October, 2023

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24 thoughts on “Azimuth vs Bearing: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The detailed explanation of azimuth and bearing has not only broadened my knowledge but also provided a clear distinction between the two concepts. It’s interesting to see how they are utilized in different surveying applications.

    Reply
    • Indeed, the discussion on azimuth and bearing’s individual roles in land, marine, and aviation navigation is truly fascinating.

      Reply
    • This article does a great job of highlighting the specific uses of azimuth and bearing, and how they contribute to accurate measurements in various surveying applications.

      Reply
  2. The detailed explanation of azimuth and bearing characteristics and measurements is truly comprehensive. This article provides a valuable overview of the distinctions between azimuth and bearing, and their significant roles in various surveying applications.

    Reply
    • I couldn’t agree more, the article’s in-depth explanation of azimuth and bearing has expanded my knowledge of these concepts significantly.

      Reply
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      Reply
  3. Thank you for the detailed explanation of azimuth and bearing. It’s clear that azimuth is used in land navigation and surveying, while bearing is used in marine and aviation navigation. The differences are very interesting.

    Reply
  4. The detailed discussion on azimuth and bearing’s representations and distinct measurement rules is truly insightful. This article has offered a comprehensive understanding of their unique features.

    Reply
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      Reply
  5. The in-depth comparison between azimuth and bearing is remarkable. The distinction in angle measurement, applications, and types of bearings is truly enlightening. Thank you for this insightful article.

    Reply
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      Reply
    • I completely agree, the clarification of the differences between azimuth and bearing has expanded my understanding of these concepts.

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  6. The comparison table’s detailed breakdown of azimuth and bearing characteristics offers a comprehensive understanding of their angle ranges, measurement rules, and specific applications. This has been a highly informative read.

    Reply
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      Reply
  7. The clear comparison between azimuth and bearing has provided valuable insights into their respective applications and measurement rules. This article is a great resource for understanding the differences between these navigational concepts.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, the detailed explanation of azimuth and bearing’s angle ranges and directional measurements offers a comprehensive understanding of their unique characteristics.

      Reply
  8. The article’s explanation of azimuth and bearing has deepened my understanding of these concepts, particularly in the context of astronomy and plane surveying. The detailed breakdown of azimuth’s origins and the use of cardinal directions is very insightful.

    Reply
    • Agreed, the comparison of azimuth and bearing is thoughtfully presented, providing a clear understanding of their respective applications and usage in varied fields.

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  9. This detailed comparison of azimuth and bearing has enhanced my understanding of these navigational concepts. The clear explanations and examples have provided a well-rounded understanding of their applications.

    Reply
  10. The explanation of Azimuth and Bearing was well-presented and informative. Azimuth is measured in degrees and starts from North, while bearings are measured in degrees or mils and use cardinal directions. It’s fascinating to see how these differences play out in different applications.

    Reply
    • Absolutely, the detailed explanation of the origin and usage of azimuth and bearing offers a clear understanding of their applications in various fields.

      Reply

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