The magnetic compass is an instrument in which a magnetic element (usually magnetic needle)is freely suspended which shows the direction of the magnetic field of the earth, determines the sides of the world. Who invented it? The compass is an old Chinese invention, created around 100 A.D.however it wasn't invented by sailors or explorers! Chinese diviners used them on panels to 'see the future' a kind of stone or mineral that was like iron oxide. This oxide leveled in a north-south direction. Finally someone noticed that the mineral that just flattens is better for determining the direction of movement rather than to predict the future. The first compasses were square. They were marked by the world's sides and some constellations. Magnetic needle was made in the shape of a teaspoon, from minerals with magnetic properties, while still showing the south. The first direction indicators that didn't resemble spoons but needles appeared in the eighth century, also in China. In 9th century compasses become commonplace devices for navigation on ships.


How it works?

Compass has magnetized turn signal that is fastened to the substrate, in such a way that it enables it to rotate freely around its axis. The substrate usually has on itself a compass rose written, a picture that shows primary and secondary sides of the world. Compass works thanks to natural magnetism of the Earth. The North Pole magnetism pointer is directed towards the north pole of the Earth.

Where is a compass used?

And still to this day, despite the instruments that can read the position of the ship or an aircraft and whether it is still at sea and or in the air using satellites,the magnetic compasses are used for orientation. Many hikers, rock climbers and athletes use it to determine which way they must go. At rally races in which a route is not established drivers are using a compass to determine the direction. And if you know a scout, he will certainly be able to tell how useful it is to use this device.

Orientation using the compass

Compass is a navigational instrument for orientation. Its main part is a movable magnetic needle, who’s one pole (highlighted with color and / or shape of the arrow) always points to the north. On the compass major sides of the world – north (N), east (E), south (S) and west (W)are marked. It turns until the symbol N coincides with the north pole of the magnetic needle. The Italian word Bussila is often also used for the word for compass. This term is used mostly in the measurement technique to highlight the precise compass. In the absence of a compass, it can be oriented with some of the other methods.

Did you know?

  • That the compass is one of the inventions that arrived in Europe before it did in the Arab world (as opposed to eg. numbers and many medical discoveries)
  • That the Portuguese maps draftsman Pedro Reinel drew the first compass map (also called a compass rose) and he marked 32 directions on it? He specially marked the direction to the Holy Land.
  • That the needle that points north is usually marked by a red color?