North Magnetic Pole

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The North Magnetic Pole is one of two points on the Earth where its magnetic field points vertically downwards. The other is the South Magnetic Pole.

At any other place on earth, the magnetic field points to the North Magnetic Pole. This is why a compass works to find where north is.

The North Magnetic Pole is not identical to the North Pole, which is the geographic north pole. It wanders slowly. In 2001, a team of scientists estimated that the North Magnetic Pole is near Ellesmere Island in northern Canada at 81°18′N 110°48′W / 81.3°N 110.8°W / 81.3; -110.8 (North Magnetic Pole 2001). It was estimated to be at 82°42′N 114°24′W / 82.7°N 114.4°W / 82.7; -114.4 (North Magnetic Pole 2005 est) in 2005.

Because the North Magnetic Pole is different from the North Pole, a compass does not always point straight north. But usually the difference is small.

Because the Earth's magnetic field is not symmetrical, the South Magnetic Pole is not directly opposite. A line drawn from one to the other does not pass through the centre of the Earth. It actually misses by about 530 km (329.3 mi).

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