Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: What happens to a compass at the North Pole?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 10/19/2014
Q:
What happens to compasses in the northern most point of earth?????????????????????????????????????????????????????
- sirtophamhat (age 34)
Alajuelita, San Jose, Costa Rica
A:

Hello Sirtophamhat,

First of all, the geomagnetic north pole is not the same as the geographical north pole.   See   for an explanation.   The earth's magnetic field can be approximated by that of a giant bar magnet imbedded in the earth vaguely in a north-south direction.  If your compass is at the geomagnetic north pole, which is somewhere in northern Canada, it wants to point straight down.  Since it is constrained to be level it will wander aimlessly around.  

LeeH

 

see also 


(published on 10/19/2014)

Follow-up on this answer.