True North vs Magnetic North
As maps are an essential part in navigation, paying attention to the difference between true north and magnetic north becomes essential. True north and magnetic north are two terms that are used when creating or illustrating new maps. True north and magnetic north are both very important when creating a map because they will determine the proximity and distance of a particular location. However, there are differences that one must be aware of when it comes to using true north and magnetic north in real life. The purpose of this article is to help you understand that difference between true north and magnetic north.
What is True North?
True north refers to the direction of the earth’s plane towards a geographic location which known as the North Pole. Since land masses do not move freely, true north is deemed constant. True north is very important in map making as without it there would be no point of origin from which locations can be drawn out. True north is represented on the map by latitude and the longitudinal lines. The north celestial pole marks the direction of astronomical true north in the skies. In the maps published by United States Geological Survey true north is marked with a line that ends in a five-pointed star.
What is Magnetic North?
Magnetic north can be defined as the direction in which the north end of a compass needle or other freely suspended magnet will point in response to the earth’s magnetic field. If true north is stable or constant, magnetic north is flexible and moves farther or closer to true north. Magnetic north shifts because it is referred to as the magnetic pole of the earth and is not an exact land base. Magnetic north is unstable and there have been recorded data in the past when magnetic north came so close to true north, with only 500-600 miles of distance approximately.
What is the difference between True North and Magnetic North?
Both true north and magnetic north are important in providing travellers and voyagers with accurate directions. These maps are updated every five years to accommodate the changes of the magnetic north. The difference between true north and magnetic north are measurable and is termed as the declination.
True north is land based while magnetic north is not. True north is stable and constant while magnetic north is flexible. Magnetic north steadily moves along or within certain range of the true north. The stars on the sky can determine true north, particularly the North Star. Magnetic north cannot be determined by any constellations and can only be determined by pointing the needle of a compass towards north.
True North Vs Magnetic North
• True north is land based or points to a specific geographical location while magnetic north is flexible, in motion and is not constant.
• True north’s location can be determined by the North Star while magnetic north cannot be determined in this manner. It is only determined by pointing the needle of a compass.
Photos By: Calsidyrose (CC BY 2.0), Eric Fischer (CC BY 2.0)