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South Pole

The ceremonial South Pole. Flags of the Antarctic Treaty signatories are arrayed around it, and the Pole Station's old dome is in the background. The polar ice cap and the South Pole station on it are constantly moving relative to the actual, Geographic South Pole.
The South Pole is the southernmost point on the Earth, as determined by the Earth's rotation. This is known as the Geographic South Pole, and has a known fixed position.

The first humans to reach the Geographic South Pole were Roald Amundsen and his party on December 14, 1911. Amundsen's main competitor Robert Falcon Scott reached the Pole a month later. On the return trip Scott and his party of four all died of hunger and extreme cold. There have been seven expeditions to arrive at the South Pole by surface transportation led by (in order) Amundsen, Scott, Hillary, Fuchs[?], Havola[?], Crary, Fiennes.

At present, Antarctica is located over the South Pole, although this has not been the case for all of Earth's history because of continental drift. The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station was established during the International Geophysical Year in 1958 and is permanently staffed by research and support personnel.

The South Magnetic Pole1, is one of the two magnetic poles of the Earth's magnetic field. It lies near the Geographic South Pole, but its exact location is slowly but continually shifting. On January 16, 1909 an expedition led by Ernest Shackleton found the magnetic South Pole.

The projection of the south geographic pole onto the celestial sphere gives the south celestial pole.

See also North Pole for a description of how the poles of other planets are determined.

Footnote 1: The South Magnetic Pole is named for its proximity to the Geographic South Pole. In a strict magnetical sense, it is a north pole. Magnetic opposites attract, and the end of a magnet defined as "South" will, when freely suspended, point toward the Geographic South.



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