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Difference between True North and Magnetic North

Difference between True North and Magnetic North

What’s the difference between True North and Magnetic North? And why do we need to know the difference? These are questions that many people may not know the answer to, but they’re important nonetheless. Let’s take a closer look at both types of north and see what sets them apart.

What is True North?

True North is a term used to describe the direction that is pointing toward the North Pole. This is opposed to magnetic north, which is the direction that a compass needle points. True North is important for navigation because it remains fixed, while magnetic north can fluctuate. True North can be determined by using the stars, sun, or a map. For example, the North Star is located directly above the North Pole, making it an ideal guide for finding True North. Similarly, the sun is always located in the same place in the sky, so it can also be used to find True North. Finally, maps often have a line indicating True North, which can be used as a reference point. By knowing True North, it is easier to stay on course and avoid getting lost.

What is Magnetic North?

  • Magnetic North is the northernmost point on Earth’s surface at which the planet’s magnetic field points vertically downwards. The Magnetic North Pole is currently located in the Arctic Ocean, approximately 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from the North Geographic Pole. Magnetic declination, or the difference between Magnetic North and true north, varies from place to place around the world. In general, Magnetic North moves roughly 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) per year. However, over the past century, it has been moving faster and faster, by as much as 50 kilometers (31 miles) per year. Nevertheless, it is still an important reference point for navigation, particularly for aviators and mariners.
  • The planet’s magnetic field is created by electric currents flowing in the Earth’s core. These currents are believed to be generated by convection currents in the molten iron of the outer core. The Earth’s magnetic field protects us from harmful solar radiation and charged particles from space, making it an essential part of our planet’s defense system.

Difference between True North and Magnetic North

True North and Magnetic North are often confused, but there is a big difference between the two. True North is a fixed point on the globe that is used as a reference for maps. Magnetic North, on the other hand, is the direction that a compass needle points. It changes over time and is affected by factors such as the Earth’s magnetic field and solar activity. As a result, Magnetic North can be significantly different from True North, particularly in high-latitude regions. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the difference when using maps and compasses. True North may be the more accurate reference point, but Magnetic North can be helpful in orienting yourself in unfamiliar territory.


Although the magnetic north and true north are close to each other, they can differ significantly. If you’re using a compass or GPS that relies on magnetic North, it’s important to be aware of the difference so your navigation isn’t thrown off. In the same way, if you rely on digital marketing strategies that use assumptions about how people behave or think based on magnetic north, you could be in for some surprises. To make sure your campaigns hit their mark, it’s crucial to understand and use true north as your guidepost.

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