Will a compass work at the south pole?
If you sailed near the south pole, what direction would your
compass point? Even as far south as Antarctica-the continent
that surrounds the south pole-compasses point to magnetic north.
But at the magnetic south pole itself, a compass might spin freely.
Or the needle might be so out of balance that it wouldn't even
spin-it might get stuck up against the top of the case. The same
thing would probably happen at the magnetic north pole, because, at
the poles, a compass needle wants to point in a very specific
direction-not north or south, but straight up and down-orienting
itself along magnetic lines of force. The exact locations of the
north and south magnetic pole move continually. The pole can
move-hour-to-hour and day-to-day-by hundreds of meters. There are
also larger, gradual changes in the Earth's magnetic field -Ð so
you can't accurately correct compass headings or bearings using
hundred-year-old navigation charts. Scientists have spent decades
recording these variations-but as to why it happens. . . well, that
question still hasn't been answered in detail. Written by NEW! Find
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