Glossary term: Magnetic Poles

Description: Earth has a comparatively simple magnetic field, approximately what physicists call a dipole field, not dissimilar from that of a toy bar magnet. If you suspend a compass needle so that it can move freely in all directions, you can trace the direction of Earth's magnetic field. Near the equator, the field direction is almost horizontal, but as you come closer to Earth's North and South Poles, the direction turns downward. At the so-called North magnetic pole and the South magnetic pole, the compass needle is vertical. The magnetic poles of Earth do not coincide with Earth's geographic poles, and furthermore move around, currently about 50 kilometers per year – an effect that navigators using a compass need to take into account.

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The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".