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magnetic field of earth

Humans have used compasses for direction finding since 11th century A.D. and for navigation since 12th century. Although the North Magnetic Pole does shift with time, this wandering is slow enough that a simple compass remains useful for navigation. magnitude at the Earth's surface ranges from 25 to 65 T (0.25 to 0.65 G). It is approximately the field of a magnetic dipole tilted at an angle of 10 degrees with respect to the rotational axisas if there were a bar magnet placed at that angle at the center of the Earth. However, unlike the field of a bar magnet, Earth's field changes over time because it is generated by the motion of molten iron alloys in the Earth's outer core The North Magnetic Pole wanders, but does so slowly enough that an ordinary compass remains useful for navigation. However, at random intervals, which average about several hundred thousand years, the Earth's field reverses, which causes the north and South Magnetic Poles to change places with each other. These reversals of the geomagnetic poles leave a record in rocks that allow paleomagnetists to calculate past motions of continents and ocean floors as a result of plate tectonics. The magnetic field of the Earth deflects most of the solar wind. The charged particles in the solar wind would strip away the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet rays. One stripping mechanism is for gas to be caught in bubbles of magnetic field, which are ripped off by solar winds. Calculations of the loss of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Mars, resulting from scavenging of ions by the solar wind, indicate that the dissipation of the magnetic field of Mars caused a near-total loss of its atmosphere.

To study the earths magnatic field using a tangent galvanometer

Tangent galvanometer, 6 volts power supply, milliammeter, reversing switch, connecting wires.

As Oersted showed in the 19th century, a magnetic field is produced whenever a current flows through a wire. The magnitude and direction of the field at points near the wire depends on the shape of the wire as well as the amount of current flowing through the wire. One particularly useful geometry that commonly occurs is a single circular loop of wire. The magnetic field, B, at the center of such a loop is given by

B= ( o I) 2 a(1)
Where o = 4 x 10^-7 Tesla-m/amp, I is the current in amps and R is the radius of the loop in meters. The direction of B is given by the right hand rule. On the surface of the earth, the magnetic field at the center of such a current loop is the resultant of two fields: that due to the current in the loop and that due to the magnetic field from the earth as shown in figure 1. By determining the direction of the resultant magnetic field we can, using equation 2 (as given below) and vector addition, determine the horizontal component of the earths magnetic field. Be BR = Bc + Be


The purpose of this experiment is to measure the horizontal and vertical components of the earth's magnetic field. We will accomplish this by using a tangent galvanometer, an instrument which preceded the modern ammeter. The tangent galvanometer was originally designed to measure an unknown current by comparing the magnetic field produced by that current with the earth's magnetic field. Using an ammeter together with a tangent galvanometer, we can compute the earth's magnetic field. The magnetic field at the center of a coil of N circular turns, each of radius R and carrying a current I, has a magnitude

B= ( o I.n) 2 a(1)

Let such a coil be oriented in the vertical plane, with its central axis normal to the horizontal component BEx of the earth's magnetic field BE. Refer to the diagram in as below . Be must then lie in the plane of the coil. When a current exists in the coil, the resultant magnetic field at the center of the coil is the vector sum of Bc and BE.
BR = Bc + Be

Since Bc lies entirely in the horizontal plane, the horizontal component of B is the vector sum of the horizontal component of Be
Bx = Bc + Bex

Let be the angle between Bex and Bx From the diagram, we see that Bc = BEx tan

We see from this equation that a graph of the magnetic field strength of the coils, Bc, versus tan should yield a straight line with slope BEx. Also, the graph must go through the origin, since is zero when Bc is zero. Because the graph must go through the origin, the usual Least Squares equation for slope is not the most accurate one to use. We will instead use the Modified Least Squares formula which gives the slope of the best fit line constrained to pass through the origin. In this experiment we will also measure the dip angle , defined as the angle between BEand the horizontal plane. Then, having obtained the horizontal component of the earth's field from the slope of the graph described above, and having measured the dip angle, we can find the vertical component of the earth's field, and the magnitude of the field itself, by simple trigonometry. The tangent galvanometer consists of a horizontal test compass mounted at the center of a vertical coil. The compass, in turn, consists of a non-magnetic pointer attached to a small magnetized disk. With no current in the coil, the apparatus is oriented so that the compass reads zero. The North and South poles of the magnetized disk will then lie in the plane of the coil, with the North pole pointing toward BEx. After current is turned on, the North pole will rotate through an angle and point toward Bx. The pointer, which originally read zero, will now read .

1. Place the tangent galvanometer on an inverted wooden box to raise it above the ferrous metal of the laboratory table. Remove all ferrous metal (such as certain mechanical pencils) from the immediate vicinity of the tangent galvanometer. Turn the thumbscrew to free the pointer, but do not raise the pointer so high that it pushes against the glass plate. Orient the instrument so that the pointer reads zero. If the pointer is bent, each end should be equally close to zero. 2. Place the circular level on top of the glass plate. Level the tangent galvanometer by rotating one or more feet. Remove the level some distance from the instrument. If necessary, rotate the box to re-zero the pointer. 3. Set the VOLTAGE and CURRENT control knobs on the triple-output power supply to zero (full counter-clockwise position). Use a banana plug lead to connect the positive terminal of the ammeter to the positive terminal of the power supply (red banana jack). Connect the negative terminal of the ammeter (0.1-A range) to a clip on the wiring board. Connect the 50 turn binding post of the tangent galvanometer to the same wiring board clip. Connect the common binding post of the tangent galvanometer (the post with no number next to it) to another clip of the wiring board. Connect one fixed terminal of the 50 resistor to the same clip. Use a banana plug lead to connect the other fixed terminal of the 50 resistor to the negative terminal of the power supply (black banana jack). Set the ammeter (with its internal magnet) some distance from the tangent galvanometer.

Rheostat A Reversing Switch

Tangent Galvanometer

4. Turn the power supply on and rotate the CURRENT control knob to its far counterclockwise position. While observing the ammeter, adjust the VOLTAGE control knob until that the tangent galvanometer reads 20. If the ammeter reading fluctuates noticeably, tighten all connections. Record the current. Repeat for angles of 30, 40and 50. Change the ammeter range, if necessary, to keep it on scale. 5. Reverse the direction of the current through the coil (NOT THROUGH THE AMMETER) and repeat. 6. Change to the 5 turn binding post of the tangent galvanometer and the 1-A range of the ammeter. Replace the 50 resistor by the 5 resistor. Repeat steps 4 and 5. 7. Lock the pointer, but do not move the tangent galvanometer. 8. The dip compass reads correctly only if its (horizontal) axis of rotation is perpendicular to the horizontal component of the earth's magnetic field. To accomplish this, sight parallel to the coil of the tangent galvanometer at a fixed object on the other side of the room. Remove the tangent galvanometer from the box and replace it by the dip compass. Align the dip compass so that its protractor is parallel to the plane previously occupied by the coil, using your sighted reference point. Move the tangent galvanometer some distance away so that its magnetized disk does not affect the dip compass. Record the dip angle between the horizontal plane and the earth's magnetic field.

9. Use outside calipers and a meter stick to measure the outside diameter of the coil. Measure the actual windings, not the metal frame. 10. Measuring the inside diameter of the windings is a bit more difficult, because the compass is in the way. Also, we must compensate for the thickness of the metal frame. Measure and record the thickness of the metal which makes up the frame. Using the calipers as outside calipers, open them until they span the inside diameter of the metal frame. Place them on the meter stick; read and record the distance. Finally, add two metal thicknesses to the distance, to obtain the inside diameter of the windings.

1. Calculate the average coil radius. 2. Average each pair of currents, measured for the same number of turns and for the same angle of the pointer. Make a table containing the quantities: number of turns, angle, current, and magnetic field strength of the coils (in T). Show the calculation of the magnetic field strength in one case. 3. Average the two values of the magnetic field strength of the coils for each angle. List the results in a table containing the quantities angle, tan , and magnetic field strength of the coils.

4. Plot a graph of magnetic field strength versus tan . Use a straightedge to draw the line that best-fits the data points and passes through the origin. 5. Use the Modified Least Squares formula to calculate the slope of your graph S.No Current I (A) 1 1 2 3 4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 32 40 46 51 Deflection of T.G. (degree) 2 31 39



I/ tan

3130MIN 3930MIN 4530MIN 5030MIN

0.6123 0.8243 1.0176 1.2131

0.9792 0.9705 0.9823 0.9892


Mean = 0.9803

Circumference of the coil : (2 a) = 49.8 X10^-2m 2a= [49.8 X10^-2]/2 =0.1586 m Bh = ( ) =

= x Tesla

= 388.146 x



The above experiment proves that the horizontal component of earths magnetic field (BH) = 3.88 x