A circular instrument with a magnetic needle. Simple, and yet, in many ways, quite revolutionary. Ordinary in looks, and yet, something very important for the geographer. Its functions are quite important for navigation.
That is essentially the magnetic compass. It is a tool that denotes direction. The basic definition of how it works goes as follows: the magnetic needle inside of the compass uses the earth’s magnetic field to point north. If one knows where north is, one can find the rest of the cardinal directions.
Such a simple tool, and in the era of GPS and other forms of geospatial technology, this is still an important tool. Every person should still know how to use a compass. Modern geospatial technology is very useful. However, it is not always foolproof. And consider this. What if one’s GPS breaks? What if a person is in a place where it does not work properly? What if you are on a camping trip and get lost? How does a person find their way back?
This is why it is important to learn how to use a compass. Even in the era of ever-advancing geospatial technology, some tools are still important. Knowing how to use a compass, and applying that use could be helpful in a situation such as getting lost. It could even mean the difference between life and death.
Check out this video to learn how to use a compass:
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