A compass is a device that indicates direction. It is one of the most important instruments for navigation on land, in the seas, and in the atmosphere. Ironically, even though it all happened centuries ago, the name of its inventor is not known. However, many historians think that the Chinese may have been the first civilization to develop a magnetic compass and, that this may have occurred in the the 11th or 12th centuries … The History of the Compass … Soon after its invention in China, and Western Europeans began using a compass. This is thought to have occurred by the end of the 12th century … The First Compasses… These were made using Loadstone … A naturally magnetized iron stone. This occurred during the Han dynasty in China. Over time, Loadstone compasses became known as "South Pointing Fish". Initially, Loadstone compasses were used for land navigation. Soon after, it’s use for sea and land navigation began. Overtime the technology used to develop compasses shifted to using iron needles, magnetized by striking them with a lodestone. Soon, compasses using magnetized needles were described in medieval European documents. This occurred around 1190. Later the use of a compass was found to be in Islamic parts of the world as well … Magnetic Compasses … these are the most well-known type of compass. They have become so popular that the term “compass” almost always refers to a magnetic compass. While the design and construction of this type of compass has changed significantly over the centuries, the concept of how it works has remains the same … The compass has been a very important tool for mariners, and other explorers for centuries. Ironically, the inventor of the compass is unknown … The Parts of a Compass … A compass consists of a magnetized needle that is allowed to rotate so it lines up with the earth’s magnetic fields. The ends of these needles will point to what are known as magnetic north and magnetic south. Scientists and historians don’t know when the principles behind magnetic compasses were discovered, however it is known that the ancient Greeks understood magnetism as early as 2,000 years ago. It is thought that Chinese scientists may have known that rubbing an iron bar (such as a needle) with a naturally occurring magnet called a Lodestone, would temporarily magnetize the needle so that it would point north and south … Very Early Compasses … These were made from a magnetized needle attached to a piece of wood or cork that floated freely in a dish of water. Once the needle settled, the colored end would point toward magnetic north. As scientists learned more about magnetism, the compass needle was mounted and placed in the middle of a card that showed the Cardinal Directions … North, South, East, and West. This methodology can still be seen today … One of the earliest known references to lodestone's magnetic properties was made in the 6th century BC … Ancient Greeks credited Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus with discovering lodestone … The earliest Chinese literary reference to magnetism occurs in the 4th-century BC Book of the Devil Valley Master Guiguzi … One of the Greatest Inventions and a Very Important Tool for Navigation In the Air, On the Water, and Across Land … Today there are many versions of the compass which are used for navigation and orientation but in different conditions. The Compass was invented in Europe around 1300. It had three major elements. The first one is a freely pivoting needle which stands on a pin and is enclosed in a box that has a glass cover and a wind rose that has cardinal directions - North, East, South and West. That box is placed inside a gimbal so it can rotate freely and that system is then placed in another gimbal. Using this method the magnetic needle can always stay horizontal if weighted on the bottom. A bearing compass is a magnetic compass that is used to measure bearing: the angle between its forward direction and the direction from it to some other object (the most commonly North). It was used in map making and the first one appeared in 18th century. Its variants are the surveyor's compass and prismatic compass. The liquid compass is a type of a compass for navigation, in which the magnetized needle or card is immersed in the fluid which gives a more stable reading. This method is a direct descendant of the first Chinese navigational compasses, but they were improved over time. Today’s variants are enclosed in transparent globes and used everywhere; from cars, to boats, to aircraft ,and rockets. A compass is a navigational instrument for determining direction relative to the Earth's magnetic poles. It consists of a magnetized pointer (usually marked on the North end) free to align itself with Earth's magnetic field. The compass has greatly improved the safety and travel, especially ocean and air travel … Remember, Smart Boating is Safe boating !