Robert Norman

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Illustration of magnetic dip from Norman's book, The Newe Attractive

Robert Norman was a 16th-century-English mariner, compass builder, and hydrographer who discovered magnetic inclination, the deviation of the Earth's magnetic field from the vertical.


Robert Norman is noted for The Newe Attractive, a pamphlet published in 1581[1] 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's magnetic 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.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Published in London by Ballard. See Harré, R. (1981). Great Scientific Experiments. Phaidon (Oxford). pp. 49 – 56. ISBN 0-7148-2096-2.