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British compasses have been WRONG for 360 years – but will finally point ‘true north’ this month - The Sun

Date published: 2019-09-04
Originally published: Here. Excerpt below.


COMPASSES at Greenwich Observatory in London will soon be pointing true north for the first time in 360 years.
Most people don't realise that compasses are often slightly wrong because the 'true north' of the North Pole can be different to the Earth's magnetic north that compasses point to.
At some point over the next two weeks compasses in Greenwich will be pointing true north.
However, other parts of the UK may have to wait two more decades for the phenomenon to happen to them.
Compass needles create an angle between true north and magnetic north and this angle is called declination.
For the past few hundred years, compass needles have been pointing west of true north because the declination is currently negative.
This compass was used during the First World WarCredit: Wikimedia Commons / Frederick Raymond Bamber
The magnetic poles on Earth are not fixed in relation to its axis so as the Earth spins, magnetic north can move slightly.
True north is the direction along the Earth's surface to the North Pole and this never moves.
Expert navigators are used to compensating for declination when they are using a compass so they don't end up walking in the wrong direction.
It is thought that declination is now moving westwards at a rate of 12 miles per year, which means it will soon reach true north in the UK.
That means that in the next few weeks the compasses at The Royal Observatory Greenwich, which was founded in 1676, will point true north for the first time ever as the Earth's magnetic north aligns with it.
Zero declination will travel across the UK over the next couple of decades but by 2040 all compasses are likely to be pointing eastwards of true north.
This change for compasses shouldn't make a difference to your everyday life though as compasses and GPS will work as normal.
Here's the basics...
Compasses are usually simple round objects that contain magnets
This lightweight magnet is often reffered to as a needle because of its shape
This magn ...


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British compasses have been WRONG for 360 years – but will finally point ‘true north’ this month - The Sun https://t.co/DV54vblMue #North #Earths #Pole pic.twitter.com/OqWtDR2Blg

— NUS Trivia | tech news (@NusTrivia) September 4, 2019