North Pole

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North Pole,

northern end of the earth's axis, by convention at lat. 90°N. Because the earth's rotational axis wobbles slightly over time, the location where the northern end of the axis intersects the earth's surface shifts, although it is always within a few meters of the fixed geographic and cartographic position of the North Pole. The north geographic pole is distinguished from the north magnetic polemagnetic pole,
the two roughly opposite ends of the planet where the earth's magnetic intensity is the greatest, as the north and south magnetic poles. For the magnetic north, it is the direction from any point on the earth's surface linking the horizontal component of the
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. U.S. explorer Robert E. PearyPeary, Robert Edwin
, 1856–1920, American arctic explorer, b. Cresson, Pa. In 1881 he entered the U.S. navy as a civil engineer and for several years served in Nicaragua, where he was engaged in making surveys for the Nicaragua Canal.
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 was long generally credited as being the first to reach (1909) the North Pole despite Frederick A. CookCook, Frederick Albert,
1865–1940, American explorer and physician, b. Sullivan co., N.Y. Cook early became interested in the arctic and accompanied the expedition of Robert E. Peary in 1891–92 as surgeon.
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's prior claim (1908). In 1926, Richard E. ByrdByrd, Richard Evelyn,
1888–1957, American aviator and polar explorer, b. Winchester, Va. He took up aviation in 1917, and after World War I he gained great fame in the air. He commanded the naval air unit with the arctic expedition of D. B. MacMillan in 1925.
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 and Floyd Bennett may have been the first persons to fly over the pole, but entries in Byrd's diary suggest that they may have missed the actual pole; if so, that feat would belong to Roald AmundsenAmundsen, Roald
(Roald Engelbregt Grauning Amundsen) , 1872–1928, Norwegian polar explorer; the first person to reach the South Pole. He served (1897–99) as first mate on the Belgica
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. The first overland expedition to have unquestionably reached the pole arrived in 1968; it was led by American Ralph Plaisted and traveled by snowmobile. See also Arctic, theArctic, the
northernmost area of the earth, centered on the North Pole. The arctic regions are not coextensive with the area enclosed by the Arctic Circle (lat. 66°30'N) but are usually defined by the irregular and shifting 50°F; (10°C;) July isotherm that closely
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See F. Fleming, Ninety Degrees North: The Quest for the North Pole (2002).

North Pole

How did Santa Claus come to choose the North Pole as his home? He didn't. This address was chosen for him by American cartoonist Thomas Nast (1840-1902). In 1882 Nast depicted Santa perched on top of a crate bearing the label "Christmas box 1882, St. Nicholas, North Pole." Nast's vision apparently caught on. Several years later, another artist portrayed Santa returning to his North Pole home. Soon, it became standard lore that the jolly gift giver inhabited the polar north. What inspired Nast to give Santa such a remote residence? The influential portrait of the Christmas gift giver, painted decades earlier by Clement C. Moore in "A Visit from St. Nicholas," described him wearing fur robes. This made it likely that he came from a cold climate. Nast may also have read Horatio Alger's 1875 poem entitled "St. Nicholas," in which Alger declared that this "patron saint of Christmas night" lived beyond the "polar seas." At the time when Nast was conjuring up his images of Santa, no explorer had yet reached the North Pole, although several expeditions had begun the perilous journey. This remote and mysterious place, which no human being had yet seen, must have seemed the perfect abode for that elusive and magical creature, Santa Claus (see also Children's Letters).

Further Reading

Bowler, Gerry. The World Encyclopedia of Christmas. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McClelland and Stewart, 2000. Del Re, Gerard, and Patricia Del Re. The Christmas Almanack. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1979. Restad, Penne. Christmas in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

North Pole


the point at which the earth’s imaginary axis of rotation intersects the earth’s surface in the northern hemisphere. All other points on the surface of the earth are south of the north pole.

The north pole is located in the central part of the Arctic Ocean, where depths exceed 4,000 m. At all times the region is covered by thick multi-year pack ice. The average temperature is about -40°C in winter and about 0°C in summer; on a few summer days it rises to 1 °-2°C. The sun does not drop below the horizon for a period of 186 days and 10 hours. Because of the refraction of light, however, the polar day is actually longer than this period and lasts about 193 days. The polar night accordingly lasts 172 days, although the sun does not rise above the horizon for a period of 178 days and 14 hours. (See alsoGEOGRAPHIC POLES.)

north pole

[′nȯrth ′pōl]
The north celestial pole that indicates the zenith of the heavens when viewed from the north geographic pole.
The pole of a magnet at which magnetic lines of force are considered as leaving the magnet; the lines enter the south pole; if the magnet is freely suspended, its north pole points toward the north geomagnetic pole. Also known as positive pole.
The geomagnetic pole in the Northern Hemisphere, at approximately latitude 78.5°N, longitude 69°W. Also known as north magnetic pole; north geomagnetic pole.

North Pole

[′nȯrth ′pōl]
The geographic pole located at latitude 90°N in the Northern Hemisphere of the earth; it is the northernmost point of the earth, and the northern extremity of the earth's axis of rotation. Also known as north geographic pole.

North Pole

1. the northernmost point on the earth's axis, at a latitude of 90?N
2. Astronomy the point of intersection of the earth's extended axis and the northern half of the celestial sphere, lying about 1? from Polaris
3. the pole of a freely suspended magnet, which is attracted to the earth's magnetic North Pole