Shop Windows to the Universe

Check out the fun Earth science related bumper stickers in our online store! Express yourself!

Disk Magnet and Compass Interactive

The black circle represents a ceramic disk magnet, with the north pole side up. The other item represents a compass; the red end of the needle is the end that would point towards Earth's North Magnetic Pole. Notice that the red end of the compass needle points away from the magnet. For historical reasons, what we call "Earth's North Magnetic Pole" is actually the south pole of Earth's magnetic field! Yikes!

Drag either the compass or the magnet around to explore the magnetic field around the magnet.

(Note: If you cannot see the animation below, or it is not working properly, you may need to download the latest Flash player.)

This is an early draft version of this activity. We expect to replace it with a better version soon. Some things to be aware of:

  • If you drag either the compass or the magnet off screen and let go, you won't have any way to get them back. Reload/refresh the web page to start over.
  • The behavior of the compass might be a bit different in the real world when you place it on top of the magnet.
Last modified August 22, 2007 by Randy Russell.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Earth's Magnetic Poles

Earth has a magnetic field. If you imagine a gigantic bar magnet inside of Earth, you'll have a pretty good idea what Earth's magnetic field is shaped like. Of course, Earth DOESN'T have a giant bar magnet...more

The Magnetic Field

The force of magnetism causes material to point along the direction the magnetic force points. As shown in the diagram to the left, the force of magnetism is illustrated by lines, which represent the force....more

Planetary Magnets

The Earth is a good example of a planetary dipole, where the lines of force point in a direction out of the South (magnetic) Pole and into the North (magnetic) Pole. Planets can also show evidence of quadrupoles...more

Detecting Planetary Magnetism

A magnetometer is an instrument for measuring magnetic fields. Many spacecraft carry magnetometers to measure the magnetic fields around planets. When a spacecraft makes those measurements, what do the...more

Electricity and Magnetism

Electricity and magnetism are two very important topics in the science of physics. We use electricity to power computers and to make motors go. Magnetism makes a compass point North and keeps notes stuck...more

Electromagnetic Radiation

Electromagnetic radiation is the result of oscillating electric and magnetic fields. The wave of energy generated by such vibrations moves through space at the speed of light. And well it should... for...more

Radio Waves

Radio waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation. A radio wave has a much longer wavelength than does visible light. We use radio waves extensively for communications. Radio waves have wavelengths as...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA