What are errors of magnetic compass?

Written by Amit Sharma
Errors  of magnetic compass:-

The true North Pole and the magnetic north pole are not located at the same spot. This variation causes a magnetic compass needle to point more or less away from true north. The amount the needle is offset is called variation because the amount varies at different points on Earth’s surface. Even in the same locality variation usually does not remain constant, but increases or decreases at a certain known rate annually.

The variation for any given locality, together with the amount of annual increase or decrease, is shown on the compass rose of the chart for that particular locality.


Remember:  If the annual variation is an increase, you add; if it is a decrease, you subtract

How to calculate variation from compass rose.

To find the amount of variation in this locality in1995, count the number of years since 1990 (in this case 5); Multiply that by the amount of annual increase;(which here gives you 5 X 1′, or 5); add that to the variation in 1990 and you have a 1995 variation of14°50′  W
Variation remains the same for any heading of the ship at a given locality. No matter which way the ship is heading,  the  magnetic  compass,  if  affected  only  by variation, points steadily in the general direction of the magnetic  north  pole.


The amount a magnetic compass needle is deflected by magnetic  material  in  the  ship  is  called  deviation.Although deviation remains a constant for any given compass heading, it is not the same on all headings.  Deviation  gradually  inc
reases,  decreases, increases,  and  decreases  again  as  the  ship  goes  through an entire 360° of swing.

The magnetic steering compass is located in the pilothouse, where it  is  affected  considerably  by deviation.  Usually the standard compass  is  topside, where the magnetic forces producing deviation are not as strong. Courses and bearings by these compasses must be carefully differentiated by the abbreviations PSC (per  standard  compass),  PSTGC (per  steering compass), and PGC (per gyrocompass). The standard compass provides a means for checking the steering compass  and  the  gyrocompass.

About the author

Amit Sharma

Graduated from M.E.R.I. Mumbai (Mumbai University), After a brief sailing founded this website with the idea to bring the maritime education online which must be free and available for all at all times and to find basic solutions that are of extreme importance to a seafarer by our innovative ideas.