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Sir James Clark Ross: Finds North Magnetic Pole

Sir James Clark Ross (1800-1862) became one of the most seasoned of the British Polar explorers and was a member of the British "Arctic Council".

In his early years, he was tutored by his uncle, the Arctic explorer Sir John Ross, first joining him on a voyage in search of the Northwest Passage in 1818. He participated in four more Arctic expeditions with Sir William Edward Parry between 1819 and 1827.

James Ross then accompanied his uncle John on another Arctic expedition from 1829-33 (they became stranded for four winters), and he was picked as second-in-command because of both his previous polar experience and his interest in terrestrial magnetism.

One expedition objective was to discover the location of the ever-shifting North Magnetic Pole, and on June 1, 1831, James Ross claimed that discovery by planting the British flag on the west coast of Boothia Peninsula in what is now the Canadian Arctic (70 05.3' N, 96 46' W).

This was his crowning achievement. He wrote: "It almost seemed as if we had accomplished everything that we had come so far to see and to do; as if our voyage and all its labours were at an end and that nothing now remained for us but to return home and be happy for the rest of our days."

In 1839, Ross led an expedition to the Antarctic with the ships "Erebus" and "Terror" (ships that would later become famous when Sir John Franklin took them to the Arctic and lost them). He had hoped to also claim the South Magnetic Pole location, and was disappointed when he ran into the "southernmost land" - becoming the first to see Antarctica.

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