What are we celebrating on Blue Switch Day?
Traditionally, on May 2nd of each year, the geocaching community celebrates Blue Switch Day: on that day in the year 2000, GPS reception became possible for everyone. The artificial interference signal, which had previously made GPS satellites virtually invisible, was switched off by turning a lever ("switch").
From that point on, the basis for geocaching was available. And not only for our favorite hobby, but also for so many things that we now take for granted in our lives: navigation in the car, fitness tracker on the hiking route or even during a geocaching tour. Without GPS signals, many things do not work as we are used to.
Before the first Blue Switch Day in May 2000, GPS was used by the military. An artificial interference made the signal unrecognizable.
“Selective availability made the use of GPS technology inaccessible to the general public. In the United States, until May 2000, the military was the only entity with access to this technology; the US government "took the switch" and made GPS available to everyone." (Source: blog on www.geocaching.com, 12.04.2022)
One day after the aforementioned Blue Switch Day, i.e. on May 3, 2000, the first geocache was laid: a black plastic bucket buried at the position N 45° 17,460 W 122° 24,800 near Portland (USA) and items to trade like a computer game CD, a book and a few items to trade. An inconspicuous campaign that was to gain notoriety around the world only a short time later.
No geocaching without GPS
Geocaching without GPS is almost unthinkable. What is hidden behind these three mysterious letters and what does GPS have to do with space? The abbreviation GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Translated into German, this means Global Positioning System. That sounds pompous at first and, on closer inspection, it is. So more soaring than trotting because it's a global navigation satellite system.
These satellites buzz around our earth high above our heads and provide us with signals for determining our position. The digital scavenger hunt is actually not feasible without these little earth companions. The classic navigation with compass and map is a thing of the past. Even if there are also varieties of treasure hunts that do not require modern technology. But maybe more on that later in another blog post. How does coordinate reception via GPS work?
Whether with a GPS receiver or a smartphone: when we receive position coordinates, they come from space. A global network of satellites makes this possible. Precision in space and time is the magic word to get the most accurate data possible about the position of the treasure you are looking for. In plain language, this means that the satellites must constantly send their position and the exact time down to earth in order to be able to be located precisely. An extremely accurate atomic clock on board each satellite makes this possible.
Your receiving device needs signals from at least four satellites, otherwise a bearing is not possible. It sounds crazy that out there, beyond our earth's atmosphere, satellites are orbiting our earth in a vacuum and allowing us to have fun here on earth. We hope you now have a basic understanding of how GPS works. But back to this year's Blue Switch Day, which has a little surprise in store for you.
Souvenir for Blue Switch Day 2022
Perhaps you are brand new to geocaching. Then you may have noticed that in the profiles on www.geocaching.com There is also a souvenirs section. You can earn your very own Blue Switch Day 2022 souvenir by doing one of the following between April 30th and May 2nd, 2022:
You find a geocache and log it too!
You are completing an Adventure Lab!
You are attending an event!
And you can already see the Blue Switch Day souvenir on your profile. This year's souvenir shows very nicely what we have already told you about in this blog post. A cool visual summary of what's going on in space for us to geocache on Earth. Of course, the individual satellite symbolically represents the navigation satellite system ;-)
Of course, you can't just go souvenir hunting on Blue Switch Day. In our post "Country souvenirs: keepsake and incentive you will learn more about the small pictures that many geocachers like to capture for a variety of reasons.
Geocaching around the globe
It all started with a black plastic bucket and has since taken on incredibly creative forms. Whether large or small miniature containers, whether as a quick pastime in between or as a long-planned GeoTour through distant countries: Geocaching is no longer "just" an ordinary scavenger hunt.
And Blue Switch Day 2022 might be your start into the global world of geocaching: You can first search your home zone for geocaches locally. If you've tasted blood and want to experience more: Our Cacher-Reisen team offers you exciting adventure trips around the world. Feel free to take a look around our website right now and choose the right cacher trip for you. If your dream trip is not included, please contact us: We are also open to travel destination suggestions.
We look forward to your message, which you can also send us via our social media channels. With this in mind: See you soon in the forest!