What are the advantages of a mariner's compass?
A compass is a device used to determine direction on the surface of the earth. The most familiar type of compass is the magnetic compass, which relies on the fact that a magnetic object tends to align itself with Earth's magnetic field. Other types of compasses determine direction by using the position of the Sun or a star, or by relying on the fact that a rapidly spinning object (a gyroscope) tends to resist being turned away from the direction in which its axis is pointing.
The basic parts of a magnetic compass are the needle (a thin piece of magnetic metal), the dial (a circular card printed with directions), and the housing (which holds the other parts in place). Inexpensive compasses, generally used as toys, may have no other parts. Compasses intended for more serious purposes usually have other parts to make them more useful. These other parts may include lids, covers, or cases to protect the compass; sights making use of lenses, prisms, or mirrors to enable the user to determine the direction of an object in the distance; and a transparent baseplate marked with a scale of inches or millimeters so that the compass can be used directly on a map.