Robert Norman is noted for The Newe Attractive, a pamphlet published in 1581 describing the lodestone (magnet) and practical aspects of navigation. More importantly, it included Norman's discovery of magnetic dip, the incline at an angle from the horizon by a compass needle. This effect is caused by the Earth'smagnetic field not running parallel to the planet's surface. Norman demonstrated magnetic dip by creating a compass needle that pivoted on a horizontal axis. The needle tilted at a steep angle relative to the horizon line.
Magnetic inclination and local variations were known before Robert Norman, but his pamphlet had a greater influence than the earlier work.
The crater Norman on the Moon is named in his honour.