A very interesting thing has happened. For the first time in history in Britain, three north poles are aligning over the village of Langton Matravers, near Swanage in Dorset, on Wednesday November 2, 2022.
What are the different norths?
Let’s go over the different north poles. We have the Earth’s geographic poles, defined by the spot where all the human made longitudinal lines meet and which are also the points where the axis on which the earth rotates meets its surface. The part where the lines meet in the northern hemisphere is the True North. Then we come to the magnetic poles generated by Earth’s magnetic field. The Magnetic North Pole is the location where the planet’s magnetic field points vertically downwards. So, if a compass were used in the Magnetic North Pole it will point downwards toward the centre of the Earth. There is also another north known and the Grid North. This is a blue line on an Ordinance Survey map that points to the North Pole and specifically refers to the direction northwards along the grid lines of a map projection. Many topographic maps, including those of the United States Geological Survey and Great Britain’s Ordnance Survey, indicate the difference between grid north, true north, and magnetic north. The difference between the magnetic and grid north is a crucial skill for navigation, specifically in shipping and aviation.
A triple alignment
And these three norths have aligned over Langton Matravers in Dorset for the first time in history and will stay converged for three and a half years as it travels through the UK.
According to the Ordinance Survey: “In 2014, for the first time in Great Britain since the 1660s, magnetic north moved from being to the west of grid north to the east. The change started in the very south-west corner of Britain and will slowly progress across the whole country over the next 12 to 13 years. Now, there is a third line about to come into alignment — true north. This is the direction of lines of longitude that all converge at the north pole.”
The magnetic north does wander continually north-westward due to earth’s magnetic field generated in the core. So, it is no surpise that it is doing so now. But this movement of the magnetic north has created the current alignment, which is certainly unusual. Such an event has not happened for hundreds of years.
“It will be just over halfway up England, passing through Hebden Bridge by August 2024 and leaving the English coast at Berwick-Upon-Tweed a year later in August 2025”, says the Ordinance Survey.
How cool is that?
Originally published at https://www.360onhistory.com on November 2, 2022.