What is Magnetic Declination?
Magnetic declination is the difference between true north (the direction towards the North Pole) and magnetic north (the direction a compass needle points towards). This difference exists because the Earth's magnetic field is not aligned with its rotational axis. Magnetic declination changes depending on your location on the Earth's surface and can be positive or negative. It's important to know the magnetic declination for your location in order to accurately navigate with a compass.
Why is it Important to Adjust Your Compass Declination?
If you don't adjust your compass declination, your compass will not point towards true north. This means that when you're navigating, you'll be off course. Even a small error in navigation can lead to getting lost or missing your destination. Adjusting your compass declination ensures that you're navigating with accuracy and precision.
How to Adjust Your Compass Declination
Adjusting your compass declination is a simple process, but it's important to do it correctly. Here's how to do it:
Find the magnetic declination for your location. You can find this information on topographic maps, online resources and calculators, or by using a smartphone app.
Determine if your compass has adjustable declination. If it does, you'll need to use a small screwdriver to make the adjustment. If it doesn't, you'll need to mentally adjust for declination when using your compass.
If your compass has adjustable declination, use the small screwdriver to turn the declination adjustment screw until the compass needle points towards true north.
If your compass doesn't have adjustable declination, you'll need to mentally adjust for declination when using your compass. This means adding or subtracting the magnetic declination from your bearing to get the correct direction.
Common Mistakes When Adjusting Compass Declination
One common mistake when adjusting compass declination is not double-checking that the compass needle is pointing towards true north after making the adjustment. It's also important to make sure that you're using the correct magnetic declination for your location. Using the wrong location can lead to inaccurate navigation.
Tools for Adjusting Compass Declination
To adjust your compass declination, you'll need a compass with adjustable declination (if you don't have one, you'll need to mentally adjust for declination), a small screwdriver (if your compass has adjustable declination), and the magnetic declination for your location.
Tips for Navigating with Adjusted Compass Declination
Once you've adjusted your compass declination, it's important to use it correctly in order to navigate accurately. Here are some tips for navigating with adjusted compass declination:
Double-check that your compass needle is pointing towards true north before setting your bearing.
Always use the correct magnetic declination for your location.
When taking a bearing, make sure to hold your compass level and away from any metal objects that could interfere with the needle.
Remember to adjust for declination when following a bearing. This means adding or subtracting the magnetic declination from your bearing to get the correct direction.
Practice using your compass and navigating with adjusted declination before heading out on a big trip.
Check out our article on navigating with a compass for a detailed guide on how to use a compass.
Adjusting your compass declination is an important step in accurate navigation. By following the steps outlined in this article, you'll be able to adjust your compass declination like a pro. Remember to double-check your adjustment to ensure that you are using the correct magnetic declination, and practice using your compass before heading out into the wilderness. Happy navigating!
Don't let inaccurate navigation ruin your next outdoor adventure. Make sure you have a compass that can adjust for magnetic declination. Find popular compasses on Amazon below: