MadSci Network: Earth Sciences

Re: Why are each of my compass different in magnetic north.

Date: Mon Jan 6 13:38:12 2003
Posted By: John Moulder, Faculty, Radiation Biology, Medical College of Wisconsin
Area of science: Earth Sciences
ID: 1041602179.Es


"Why are each of my compass different in magnetic north? I put them a part away from all metal yet each point to a different north pole, why is this?"

If the compasses are in the same place they should point the same direction. They should point to magnetic north, which is not quite the same as true north.

On the earth's surface, a compass points to the magnetic North Pole rather than the geographic North Pole. The angular difference between these two directions is called magnetic declination. Where I live the difference is only a few degrees, but in Seattle Washington it is 20 degrees.

I can only think of a few things that could make a compass point the wrong way:

I would do some experiments:

John Moulder
Radiation Biologist
Medical College of Wisconsin

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