Stand by your compasses!

Scientists have discovered that the Earth’s north magnetic pole is on the move and set to jump continents.
The point that compass needles point to is currently at 78° north, in the Canadian arctic near the Queen Elizabeth Islands.
But it has drifted nearly 700 miles in the last century and looks set to race into Siberia within 50 years.
The position of the magnetic pole is believed to have been relatively stable over the previous 400 years.
The Earth’s magnetic field is responsible for the spectacular displays of the northern lights. The move by its pole will make such cosmic light shows less frequent over north America but more frequent over parts of Europe.
The north and south magnetic poles have been known to flip dramatically – they last switched places 780,000 years ago and our planet is overdue for another reversal.
Scientists believe the movement of the magnetic poles is due to disruptions in the spin of liquid metal at the Earth’s core.

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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