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Magnetic Dip, Illustrated

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Published on Apr 16, 2012

Animation illustrating the effect of magnetic dip on the compass needle of a tilting platform (an airplane, in this case). The red dot moves left or right to visually show the tilt angle of the vehicle. The green line represents the Earth's magnetic field, which is more vertical than horizontal in New Jersey, diving into the Earth at about 67 degrees. The compass needle remains aligned with the magnetic field, which in this case is no longer "North" in the conventional sense. Near the equator, the magnetic field line would remain parallel with the ground and thus magnetic dip would not be a problem there.

This animation does not capture the effects from a weighted compass needle that are found in many manned aircraft. Those are acceleration effects that result in the balancing mass being pushed around, and are not explicitly tied to magnetic dip. For example, a solid state compass has no needle and no mass, so it would not be affected by these acceleration effects, but it would still be subject to magnetic dip.

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