Earth’s Magnetosphere

A Beginner’s Guide to the Earth’s Magnetosphere
A concise, clearly-written, informative overview written by S. W. H. Cowley. Contains several black-and-white illustrations and a brief glossary of terms. First published in 1996 in the American Geophysical Union’s education outreach magazine Earth in Space and now available on the AGU’s Web site at

Tracing Interplanetary Magnetic Field Lines
A graphical exercise for students (grades 9-14), tracing a typical interplanetary magnetic field line, dragged out of a location on the Sun by the radial flow of the solar wind. This illustrates the way magnetic field lines are “frozen to the plasma.” Part of a larger collection “Exploration of the Earth’s magnetosphere”

Windows to the Universe
Enter the“Windows to the Universe” site and click on “Our Planet” to link to an overview of the Earth’s magnetosphere. There are links from this page to others dealing with such topics as “What is a magnetosphere?” and “What is interplanetary space?” as well as descriptions of specific magnetospheric regions and processes. Good information about the Earth’s magnetosphere is also available at the “Explore the Sun-Earth System” page of the “Window’s” “Space Weather” page . Information on the magnetospheres of Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune is also available on the “Windows” site.

Oulu Space Physics Textbook
The magnetosphere page of the Oulu Textbook, with links to other pages that deal with different magnetospheric regions and processes.

What is the magnetosphere?
This site is a brief illustrated introduction to the Earth’s magnetosphere, prepared by the Space Plasma Physics Branch at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The material is presented on a level accessible to the general public, including middle school and high school students.

Exploration of the Earth’s Magnetosphere (also listed under comprehensive collections)
A non-mathematical overview of research on the magnetic space environment around Earth, about 80 files, illustrated, includes Spanish version (MIntro.html) and one in French (incomplete), glossary, timeline, over 100 answered questions by users, teacher guidance, a history overview and articles “Birth of a Radiation Belt” and “Secrets of the Polar Aurora.” Stresses history, also conceptual understanding and some basics such as electrons, ions and their motion in space, plasmas and energy.

Folding Paper Model of the Earth’s magnetosphere
Instructions and an image which can be downloaded, printed on a regular page, copied by a xerox machine (preferably, onto stiff paper), cut and folded (even colored!) to produce a model of the Earth’s magnetosphere. A supplement to “Exploration of the Earth’s Magnetosphere” whose index page is linked at the bottom, with versions of the model using Spanish or French captions.

A Teacher’s Introduction to the Earth’s Magnetosphere
Illustrated talk prepared for a teachers’ workshop, stressing topics related to the magnetosphere which can also fit into a regular physics course

“Teaching about Magnetism,” a related web site presenting 3 easy demonstrations on magnetism which can be performed in class using an opaque projector