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804
COMPASS

in the Proceedings of the Folk-Lore Society. His Vergil in the Middle Ages (translated into English by E. F. Benecke, 1895) traces the strange vicissitudes by which the great Augustan poet became successively grammatical fetich, Christian prophet and wizard. Together with Professor Alessandro d’Ancona, Comparetti edited a collection of Italian national songs and stories (9 vols., Turin, 1870–1891), many of which had been collected and written down by himself for the first time.


COMPASS (Fr. compas, ultimately from Lat. cum, with, and passus, step), a term of which the evolution of the various meanings is obscure; the general sense is “measure” or “measurement,” and the word is used thus in various derived meanings—area, boundary, circuit. It is also more particularly applied to a mathematical instrument (“pair of compasses”) for measuring or for describing a circle, and to the mariner’s compass.

EB1911 Compass - Fig. 1.—Compass Card.jpg
Fig. 1.—Compass Card.

The mariner’s compass, with which this article is concerned, is an instrument by means of which the directive force of that great magnet, the Earth, upon a freely-suspended needle, is utilized for a purpose essential to navigation. The needle is so mounted that it only moves freely in the horizontal plane, and therefore the horizontal component of the earth’s force alone directs it. The direction assumed by the needle is not generally towards the geographical north, but diverges towards the east or west of it, making a horizontal angle with the true meridian, called the magnetic variation or declination; amongst mariners this angle is known as the variation of the compass. In the usual navigable waters of the world the variation alters from 30° to the east to 45° to the west of the geographical meridian, being westerly in the Atlantic and Indian oceans, easterly in the Pacific. The vertical plane passing through the longitudinal axis of such a needle is known as the magnetic meridian. Following the first chart of lines of equal variation compiled by Edmund Halley in 1700, charts of similar type have been published from time to time embodying recent observations and corrected for the secular change, thus providing seamen with values of the variation accurate to about 30′ of arc. Possessing these data, it is easy to ascertain by observation the effects of the iron in a ship in disturbing the compass, and it will be found for the most part in every vessel that the needle is deflected from the magnetic meridian by a horizontal angle called the deviation of the compass; in some directions of the ship’s head adding to the known variation of the place, in other directions subtracting from it. Local magnetic disturbance of the needle due to magnetic rocks is observed on land in all parts of the world, and in certain places extends to the land under the sea, affecting the compasses on board the ships passing over it. The general direction of these disturbances in the northern hemisphere is an attraction of the north-seeking end of the needle; in the southern hemisphere, its repulsion. The approaches to Cossack, North Australia; Cape St Francis, Labrador; the coasts of Madagascar and Iceland, are remarkable for such disturbance of the compass.

EB1911 Compass - Fig. 2.—Admiralty Compass, Fig. 3.—Thomson's Compass.jpg
Fig. 2.—Admiralty Compass
(Frame and Needles).
Fig. 3.—Thomson’s (Lord Kelvin’s)
Compass (Frame and Needles).
EB1911 Compass - Fig. 4.—Section of Thomson’s Compass Bowl.jpg
Fig. 4.—Section of Thomson’s Compass Bowl. C, aluminium cap
with sapphire centre; N, N′, needles; P, pivot stem with pivot.

The compass as we know it is the result of the necessities of navigation, which have increased from century to century. It consists of five principal parts—the card, the needles, the bowl, a jewelled cap and the pivot. The card or “fly,” formerly made of cardboard, now consists of a disk either of mica covered with paper or of paper alone, but in all cases the card is divided into points and degrees as shown in fig. 1. The outer margin is divided into degrees with 0° at north and south, and 90° at east and west; the 32 points with half and quarter points are seen immediately within the degrees. The north point is marked with fleur de lis, and the principal points, N.E., E., S.E., &c., with their respective names, whilst the intermediate points in the figure have also their names engraved for present information. The arc contained between any two points is 11° 15′. The mica card is generally mounted on a brass framework, F F, with a brass cap, C, fitted with a sapphire centre and carrying four magnetized needles, N, N, N, N, as in fig. 2. The more modern form of card consists of a broad ring of paper marked with degrees and points, as in fig. 1, attached to a frame like that in fig. 3, where an outer aluminium ring, A A, is connected by 32 radial silk threads to a central disk of aluminium, in the centre of which is a round hole designed to receive an aluminium cap with a highly polished sapphire centre worked to the form of an open cone. To direct the card eight short light needles, N N, are suspended by silk threads from the outer ring. The magnetic axis of any system of needles must exactly coincide with the axis passing through the north and south points of the card. Single needles are never used, two being the least number, and these so arranged that the moment of inertia about every diameter of the card shall be the same. The combination of card, needles and cap is generally termed “the card”; on the continent of Europe it is called the “rose.” The section of a compass bowl in fig. 4 shows the mounting of a Thomson card on its pivot, which in common with the pivots of most other compasses is made of brass, tipped with osmium-iridium, which

although very hard can be sharply pointed and does not corrode.