A compass uses a magnet that points north according to the Earth's natural magnetic field. In many compasses, the indicator is a magnetic needle mounted on a spindle that allows it to swing freely, while in others there may be multiple magnets and a liquid base to dampen oscillations.Continue Reading
Earth has two magnetic poles, one near the northernmost point on the globe and one near the southernmost point. The pull of these poles is strong enough to influence magnets everywhere on the planet. The magnet inside a compass is mounted so it may swing freely, and it naturally falls in line with the Earth's magnetic field, indicating north.
Technically, the northern magnetic pole of the Earth is the south pole of the Earth's magnetic field because it attracts the "north" end of magnets. Opposite poles of magnets attract, and the north pole of a magnet is attracted to the north magnetic pole, which is the south pole of the magnetic field.
The magnetic poles do not totally correspond with the northernmost and southernmost points on the globe, and they can wander over time, slightly changing the official direction of magnetic north. In addition, the magnetic field of the Earth has weakened and grown stronger many times in history, and on occasion, the poles have even swapped places.Learn more about Geology
A compass works by aligning its magnetic needle with the Earth's magnetic field, which is created by the iron core deep inside the planet. A compass is exactly accurate since the Earth's magnetic north differs slightly from Earth's true north.Full Answer >
The earth's magnetic field causes a compass to point north, as compasses are powered by magnets. The magnets inside compasses are drawn to the magnetic North Pole, which is about 1,000 miles south of the actual North Pole. Therefore, even though a compass always points north, it does not always point toward the true north.Full Answer >
Lodestone is a naturally occurring magnet made of magnetite, which is an oxide of iron. Unlike ordinary rust, magnetite forms when iron oxidizes under very dry conditions. Lodestone is the strongest magnet found in nature.Full Answer >
Magnetite is more commonly known as lodestone and is considered to be the only mineral that acts as a natural magnet. According to Mineral Miners, the name magnetite comes from the Latin, magnesia, when a shepherd named Magnes found the mineral stuck to his shoes while tending to his flock.Full Answer >