Dip Needle Compass vs. Normal Compass

  1. Why does one "dips" down and the other rotates?
  2. jcsd
  3. ideasrule

    ideasrule 2,323
    Homework Helper

  4. I know what it looks like, I'm wondering "why"
  5. mgb_phys

    mgb_phys 8,952
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Why does it dip?
    Because the magnetic field of the earth is mostly vertical, it goes out of one pole and into the other. For typical northern city the vertical component is about 4-5x larger than the horizontal, which is a real pain if you are trying to design a compass that can be used when tilted.
    - that's why ships compasses are gimbaled to always float level when the ships tips

    Why you would own one?
    Mainly as an instrument to investigate/demonstrate the earth's field. You could use it to measure your latitude -although a sextant is easier.
Know someone interested in this topic? Share a link to this question via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?