# What causes a compass to point north or south?

## What causes a compass to point north or south?

The magnetic compass is the most familiar compass type. It functions as a pointer to “magnetic north”, the local magnetic meridian, because the magnetized needle at its heart aligns itself with the horizontal component of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Magnetic compasses work by aligning the internal dial magnets with the earth’s magnetic field. However, the earth is not the only object with a magnetic field. Objects on your vessel may have a magnetic field which will interfere with the compass’ accuracy. This is known as on board compass deviation.

A compass works by detecting the Earth’s natural magnetic fields . The Earth has an iron core that is part liquid and part solid crystal due to gravitational pressure. It is believed that movement in the liquid outer core is what produces the Earth’s magnetic field.

A compass points north because all magnets have two poles , a north pole and a south pole, and the north pole of one magnet is attracted to the south pole of another magnet. (You may have seen this…

If a north hemisphere compass is used in the southern hemisphere, the south pointing end of its needle would dip a lot more, since that is the weighted end and the field lines dip toward the south. Simple compasses for use in the southern hemisphere have the north-pointing end of the needle weighted to prevent this.

A magnetic compass points to the earth’s magnetic poles, which are not the same as earth’s geographic poles. When it comes to magnets, opposites attract. This fact means that the north end of a magnet in a compass is attracted to the south magnetic pole, which lies close to the geographic north pole.

As you get closer to the magnetic South Pole, the field lines will curve to dive straight into the magnetic South Pole, running perpendicular to Earth’s surface. “So quite often, compasses actually won’t work,” said Tom Jordan, a geophysicist with the British Antarctic Survey.

Earth’s magnetic north pole is near Earth’s geographic south. That’s why the north pole of a compass points toward north because that’s where Earth’s south magnetic pole is located and they attract.

They used the magnetic devices to organize buildings and other things according to feng shui, the ancient practice of harmonizing an environment according to the “laws of Heaven.” If you were using a compass 800,000 years ago and facing north, the needle would point to the south magnetic pole.

A compass needle points north because the north pole of the magnet inside it is attracted to the south pole of Earth’s built-in magnet. Since unlike poles attract, the thing your compass is being attracted to must be a magnetic south pole.

A compass points north because all magnets have two poles , a north pole and a south pole, and the north pole of one magnet is attracted to the south pole of another magnet. (You may have seen this demonstrated by a pair of simple bar magnets or refrigerator magnets pushed end to end.)

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