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the Earth's magnetic field

 

The Earth behaves like a huge bar magnet, with a north and south magnetic pole.

 
Geographic north is situated in the NORTH! - But at the moment, magnetic north is in the SOUTH!  

At the moment the north pole of the Earth's magnet is actually near the south geographic pole.

 

It’s not always like that though - every few thousand years the Earth's magnet flips around - one day your compass needle will point south!

 

Magnetic fieldsJust like a bar magnet, Earth's magnetic field runs from the north to south poles as shown in the diagram. Where the lines are closest together is where the magnetic field is strongest.
   
   
 
Did you know? - The first magnetic compasses were used in China in the fourth century BC. They were made of lodestone (a natural magnetic iron ore) which they thought had magical properties. The Chinese were very keen on Feng Shui, making sure that everything was pointing in the right direction, in harmony.
     

Learn more about the Earth’s magnetic field and how it shields us from the Sun’s harmful effects in Ros’s section ‘the Earth under attack’.

   

 

   
 
 

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