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As long as you remember the basic principles, you can easily work it out in your head. The first thing you need to know is where you are in relation to magnetic north.

Magnetic declination for beginners

You can find this information by looking on your map legend. If you look at the map of North America in Figure 6. If you are on the line where the declination is 0 degrees, then you don't have to worry about any of this, since magnetic north and map north are equivalent. Wouldn't it be nice if all your trips were on the 0 degree of declination line?

Your Answer

If you are to the right of that line, your compass will point toward the line to the left and hence the declination is to the west. If you are to the left of the line, your compass will point toward the line to the right and hence the declination is to the east.

What happens when magnetic north and true north align?

The compass is used primarily to take bearings. A bearing is a horizontal angle measured clockwise from north either magnetic north or true north to some point either a point on a map or a point in the real world see Figure 6.

Bearings are used to accurately travel to a destination or to locate your position. If you are working from your map, it is called a map bearing and the angle you are measuring is the angle measured clockwise from true north on your map to this other point on the map.

If you are taking a bearing off a real point on the landscape with a compass, you are using your compass to measure the angle clockwise from magnetic north to this point on the landscape. This is called a magnetic bearing. Remember that the bearing is measured clockwise.

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If you think of true north as 12 o'clock then a bearing to the right of that 1 o'clock is greater than true north and a bearing to the left of True north 11 o'clock is less than true north. If, you think about your map as an artist's rendition of the world. It displays true north, but it doesn't include magnetic fields as the real world does, so you need to make accommodations when going from your map to the real world. The basic principle is this: to correct for declination, you want the map bearing and the magnetic bearing to be equivalent.

Otherwise, you will need to make your own bearing corrections by adding or subtracting the declination amount. You need to make the two bearings equivalent by adding or subtracting the declination.


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This is illustrated in Table 6. This includes the areas of volcanoes in Whangarei and Auckland, the Taupo Volcanic Zone, Taranaki including the ironsand beaches which are derived from volcanic rocks and the old volcanoes of Banks Peninsula and the Otago Peninsula. In any of these areas, one might find a magnetic compass pointing in a different direction to that expected from the large-scale model.

As well as the internally produced magnetic field, the earth has a varying magnetic field that results from its interaction with particles and fields coming from the sun. The difference is called the convergence. Privacy Policy Disclaimer and Copyright. Staff Search. Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


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