Daily Facts
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Geographic vs. Magnetic Poles

April 7th Fact-of-the-Day

The magnetic pole that is near earth's geographic north-pole is, of course, a south-pole, because otherwise it would not attract the north end of a magnetic compass needle. Similarly, the magnetic pole that is near earth's geographic south-pole is a north-pole, because if otherwise would not attract the south end of a magnetic compass needle. Because identically-named poles are at opposite ends of the earth it is important to be clear about whether a pole being referred to is a geographic or a magnetic pole whenever there could be ambiguity. Also, because most people falsely think the magnetic pole near earth's geographic north-pole is a north-pole, it is important to guard against miscommunication when discussing earth's magnetic poles with most people. A pilot using a magnetic compass to fly a north magnetic heading is flying toward earth's south magnetic pole, but the plane is moving in a northerly geographic direction. ©2005 Martek International All rights reserved.

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