[ 2007-03-23 14:40 ]
A compass in the Northern Hemisphere truely does
point in a northerly direction, but not to the North Pole. Instead, the compass
points to the North Magnetic Pole, which, as Sir James Clark Ross discovered in
1831, is located at the northernmost point of the Artic coast of North America.
Similarly, a compass in the Southern hemisphere always points to the South
Magnetic Pole, which is firmly planted south of Australia, in Antarctica.
The different directions their compasses pointed, when traversing the
high-seas of the Northern Hemisphere, baffled ancient mariners. Their modern
counterparts understand, and compensate for, the differences in the North Pole
and the Northern Magnetic Pole, and chart their courses accordingly. The
differences in the poles prove minor, in comparison to the tricks the Northern
Magnetic Pole pulls from its home of Boothia. The bane of boyscouts, as they
attempt to navigate with, or without, the benefit of their trusty compasses, is
the fact that this Pole chooses to roam about in a 20-mile circle, and to shift
its course between day and night.
This 20-mile variance, however, is not one of global proportions. Modern
sea-farers compensate for the Northern Magnetic Pole's perpetual motion, by
using charts, and tools other than the compass. All things considered, 20 miles
is a minor measure for distant travelers to take into account in adjusting their
Thankfully, the Southern Magnetic Pole spares sailors the navigational
nightmare its Northern nemesis does. In the south, compass needles actually do
point true South, to the South Magnetic field.
（来源：coolquiz.com 英语点津 Annabel 编辑）