True Bearing and Magnetic Bearing

Mapwork magnetic declination and bearing calculations

The angular components D and I have the main field red contours in degrees and annual change blue contours in arc-minutes per year.

The angular components D and I have the main field red contours in degrees and annual change blue contours in arc-minutes per year.

Components of the Magnetic Field D, the magnetic declination sometimes called the magnetic variation , is the angle between the horizontal component of the magnetic field and true north. It is positive when the compass points east of true north, and negative when the compass points west of true north.

Declination is given in degrees and its annual change is in degrees per year. The value of magnetic declination should be added to a magnetic compass bearing to yield the true north bearing. H, the horizontal field, is the strength of the horizontal part of the magnetic field.

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X, Y, and Z are the magnetic field components in the true north, east, and vertically down directions. This forms a standard right-handed coordinate system. I, the magnetic inclination, is the angle between the magnetic field and the horizontal plane.

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It is positive when the magnetic field points down, as it does in the northern hemisphere, and negative when the magnetic field points up, as it does in the southern hemisphere. Inclination is given in degrees and its annual change is in degrees per year. Click on the link to view a diagram of these seven components of the magnetic vector. Converting Between Magnetic, True and Grid Azimuths Map and compass users often need to convert between a magnetic azimuth and a true azimuth or a grid azimuth.

Magnetic north differs from true north by the magnetic declination which is defined and discussed above and can be calculated for a particular location and time using regional or global magnetic field models. Grid north differs from true north by the grid convergence. Grid convergence is defined as "the angular quantity to be added algebraically to an azimuth to obtain a grid bearing" Geocentric Datum Of Australia Technical Manual In the southern hemisphere grid convergence is positive for points east of the grid zone central meridian grid north is west of true north and negative for points west of the grid zone central meridian grid north is east of true north.

Grid convergence can be calculated on-line for a given location. Geodetic Calculation Methods Grid convergence and magnetic declination are shown in diagrammatic form on some topographic maps. The signs of these values can be deduced from these diagrams. Four numerical examples are presented to illustrate conversions between magnetic, true and grid azimuths.

The same relationships between azimuths apply to all examples but each example illustrates the application of the relationships for magnetic declination and grid convergence values with differing sign combinations.

Negative magnetic declination, negative grid convergence A magnetic azimuth of Positive magnetic declination, positive grid convergence A magnetic azimuth of Positive magnetic declination, negative grid convergence A magnetic azimuth of Negative magnetic declination, positive grid convergence A magnetic azimuth of The azimuth conversions are explained and worked through for each of these four examples.

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AusNav #1 - True North, Grid North, Magnetic North and Magnetic Variation
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The horizontal angular difference between True North and Magnetic North...

Magnetic declination calculator Using the "Calculate Declination" form under the "Declination" tab of the Magnetic Field Calculators page, click "Calculate" at the bottom.

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