Interesting Facts about Compass

Here are some facts about compass which you could find interesting.

  • After it was invented, compass was used for divination and geomancy for centuries.
  • Chinese “south pointing spoon”, one of the first forms of the compass, - pointed south (as its name says). South point fish, which was used for navigation, did the same.
  • Western compass has 32 defined points on its rose-of-winds. Eastern has 24 and 48 points. Old Arab compasses also had 32 points. Modern compasses are marked in degrees rather than cardinal points.
  • The mariner's practice of boxing the compass is the action of naming all 32 points of the compass in a clockwise direction from The North.
  • Compasses are affected by nearby ferrous materials or electromagnetic fields, so when they are placed on the vessels that have a lot of metal like boats or planes they have to be corrected and calibrated. That is done with the use of built-in magnets fitted within the case of the compass.
  • The fleur-de-lis is a symbol that is often used to mark North on a compass. Some say that it is because original mark for the north was a spearhead above the letter “T” for a northern wind Tramontana and fleur-de-lis evolved from that. East was marked with a cross indicating the direction of Jerusalem from the point of view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Picture Of Map And Magnetic Comapss
  • Older roses-of-winds didn’t have sides of the world but the names of the winds. There were two systems: Classical 12-wind system and Mediterranean 8-wind system.
  • Magnetic compass does not point to a geographic pole, but to the magnetic pole.
  • During the World War II, compasses were smuggled to the prisoners of war in German camps in the form of buttons and razor blades to help prisoners escape.
  • The first needle of an iron needle compass from China was in a shape of a tadpole.
  • When the Chinese started using a compass for navigation instead for divination, the typical navigational compass was in the form of a magnetic needle floating in a bowl of water.
  • The first compass that could be used on a boat and was without liquid was a dry compass. It consisted of the standard magnetic compass that was placed in the three ring gimbal that held compass horizontal position.
  • A Qibla compass or qiblah compass is a type of compass used by Muslims to indicate the direction of Mekka to which they face performing ritual prayers.
  • Magnetic North Pole is actually magnetic south pole and vice versa.
  • Gyrocompass points to true poles.
  • Modern liquid compasses use lamp oil, mineral oil, white spirits, purified kerosene, or ethyl alcohol as a dampening fluid.
  • On the maps, rose-of-winds is usually printed in colors that will be visible in the conditions of lesser visibility. Eight principle points of the compass are usually shown on the compass rose in black. Half-winds are generally colored in blue or green while the quarter-wind points are colored red.
Picture Of Map And Magnetic Comapss
Picture Of Gold Magnetic Compass