MapMaker: Latitude and Longitude
Latitude and longitude is a gridded coordinate system across the surface of Earth that allows us to pinpoint the exact location. Latitude marks how far north or south of the Equator (zero degrees) one is while longitude determines how far east or west one is from the prime meridian (zero degrees), today located in Greenwich, London, United Kingdom.
Greenwich has not always been the agreed-upon prime meridian. In the 18th century most European countries chose a location unique to them a built their maps off of that reference point. It was not until 1884, when 22 countries met in Washington, D.C., and voted the Greenwich meridian as the international standard.
Other key points of latitude are the Tropic of Cancer (23°27’ N), Tropic of Capricorn (23°27’ S), the Arctic Circle (66°30’ N), and the Antarctic Circle (66°30’ S). The Tropic of Cancer located in the northern hemisphere is the point on Earth that receives the most direct sunlight around June 21st as the north pole tilts toward the sun. This latitude is mirrored by the Tropic of Capricorn in the southern hemisphere and receives the most direct sunlight around December 21st when the south pole is tilted toward the sun. The Arctic Circle, which surrounds the North Pole, marks the point where the sun does not set around June 21st or rise around December 21st. Likewise, the Antarctic Circle, near the South Pole, is the location where the sun does not set around December 21st or rise around June 21st.
Explore this map to find out the latitude and longitude where you are today.
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Latitude and Longitude: YourGlobal Address
Every location on earth has a global address. Because the address is in numbers, people can communicate about location no matter what language they might speak. A global address is given as two numbers called coordinates. The two numbers are a location's latitude number and its longitude number ("Lat/Long").
Credit: Illinois State University
Using Lat/Long is different from using a street address. Instead of having a specific street address, Lat/Long works with a numbered grid system, like what you see when you look at graph paper. It has horizontal lines and vertical lines that intersect. A location can be mapped or found on a grid system simply by giving two numbers which are the location's horizontal and vertical coordinates; or, to say it another way, the "intersection" where the place is located).
Grid Mapping a Globe:
Latitude and Longitude lines are a grid map system too. But instead of being straight lines on a flat surface, Lat/Long lines encircle the Earth, either as horizontal circles or vertical half circles.
Horizontal mapping lines on Earth are lines of latitude. They are known as "parallels" of latitude, because they run parallel to the equator. One simple way to visualize this might be to think about having imaginary horizontal "hula hoops" around the earth, with the biggest hoop around the equator, and then progressively smaller ones stacked above and below it to reach the North and South Poles. (Can you think of other ways to visualize the parallels of Latitude?)
Think about having imaginary horizontal "hula hoops" around the earth, with the biggest hoop around the equator, and then progressively smaller ones stacked above and below it to reach the North and South Poles
Latitude lines are a numerical way to measure how far north or south of the equator a place is located. The equator is the starting point for measuring latitude--that's why it's marked as 0 degrees latitude. The number of latitude degrees will be larger the further away from the equator the place is located, all the way up to 90 degrees latitude at the poles. Latitude locations are given as __ degrees North or __ degrees South.
Vertical mapping lines on Earth are lines of longitude, known as "meridians". One simple way to visualize this might be to think about having hula hoops cut in half, vertically positioned with one end at the North Pole and the other at the South Pole.
Visualize hula hoops cut in half, vertically positioned with one end at the North Pole and the other at the South Pole.
Longitude lines are a numerical way to show/measure how far a location is east or west of a universal vertical line called the Prime Meridian. This Prime Meridian line runs vertically, north and south, right over the British Royal Observatory in Greenwich England, from the North Pole to the South Pole. As the vertical starting point for longitude, the Prime Meridian is numbered 0 degrees longitude.
To measure longitude east or west of the Prime Meridian, there are 180 vertical longitude lines east of the Prime Meridian and 180 vertical longitude lines west of the Prime Meridian, so longitude locations are given as __ degrees east or __ degrees west. The 180 degree line is a single vertical line called the International Date Line, and it is directly opposite of the Prime Meridian.
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Latitude lines are the horizontal lines on a map.Latitude lines are parallel to each other they have an equal distant from each other. In the north hamisphere, the degrees of latitude ranges from 0° to 90° N and in the sorth hamisphere, the degrees of latitude ranges from 0° to 90° S. 0° line refers to the equator, which is the line which divides our planet into the northern and southern hemispheres. 90° N is the North Pole and 90° S is the South Pole.
Longitude (meridians) are the vertical lines on a map. They all converge at the two poles (North Pole and Suth Pole), and 0° longitude is located at Greenwich, England (0°). In the east hemisphere, the longitude ranges from 0° to 180°E, and in the west hemisphere,the longitude ranges from 0° to 180°W. Actually the 180°E and 180°W are the same line (so most of the time we just call it longitude 180°). The International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean is defined based on longitude line 180°,but there is a zipzag border on the International Date Line near Bering Sea because that is to keep Russia's north & west territory of the Bering Sea and the United States's east and south territory of the Bering Sea (which is Alaska), on opposite sides of the line in agreement with the date in the rest of those countries.
In order to locate spots on the earth's surface, we combine the use of latitude and logitude. Because of accuracy, we not only use degrees (°) but also minutes ('), and even seconds (''). E,W,N,S has to be used to indicate which hemisphere we are refering to.
Look at the map below:
From this map, if you know where New York City is (if not, try to Google for a map that can tell you where New York City is), you can see it is located at roughly 40° N, 74° W.
I have mention about accuracy. Yes, New York City is very big, so when you are refering to a the location of a building, for example the Empire State Building, you can't just use degrees, but also minutes and seconds. Even though minutes and seconds are not shown in the map above, but accurate maps will have it. Empire State Building is located at 40°44′54.36″N73°59′08.36″W.
This data is from the satalllite, so it is so accurate that it even has two extra digits after decimal points of second(") !!
What Are Latitude and Longitude Lines on Maps?
A key geographical question throughout the human experience is, "Where am I?" In classical Greece and China many years ago, attempts were made to create logical grid systems of the world to answer this question. The ancient Greek geographer Ptolemy created a successful grid system and listed the coordinates using latitude and longitude for significant places throughout the known world in his book Geography.
But it wasn't until the Middle Ages that the latitude and longitude system he developed was refined into what it is today. This system is now written in degrees, using the ° symbol. Read about the imaginary lines that divide the earth known as latitude and longitude.
Latitude lines run horizontally on a map. They are also known as parallels since they are parallel and equidistant from each other. Lines or degrees of latitude are approximately 69 miles or 111 km apart, with variation due to the fact that the earth is not a perfect sphere but an oblate ellipsoid (slightly egg-shaped). To remember latitude, imagine the lines as horizontal rungs of a ladder, "ladder-tude", or by the rhyme "latitude flat-itude".
There is both a north and south set of latitude degrees that run from 0° to 90°. The equator, the imaginary line that divides the planet into a northern and southern hemisphere, represents 0°. The degrees increase in either direction from this marker. 90° north is the North Pole and 90° south is the South Pole.
The vertical lines on a map are called longitude lines, also known as meridians. Unlike latitude lines, they taper (latitude lines are completely parallel, almost as if stacked on top of each other). They converge at the poles and are widest at the equator. At their widest points, these are about 69 miles or 111 km apart like latitude lines.
Longitude degrees extend 180° east and 180° west from the prime meridian, an imaginary line dividing the earth into an eastern and western hemisphere, and meet to form the International Date Line in the Pacific Ocean at 180° longitude. 0° longitude falls in Greenwich, England, where a physical line showing the division between the Eastern and Western hemispheres was constructed.
The Royal Greenwich Observatory was established as the site of the prime meridian by an international conference in 1884 for navigational purposes.
Using Latitude and Longitude
To precisely locate points on the earth's surface, use latitude and longitude coordinates. Degrees are divided into 60 equal parts called minutes (') and those are further divided into 60 equal parts called seconds ("). Do not confuse these units of measurement with units of time.
Seconds can be broken down into tenths, hundredths, or even thousandths for the most precise navigation. Degrees latitude are either north (N) or south (S) and degrees longitude are either east (E) or west (W). Coordinates can be written as DMS (degrees, minutes, and seconds) or decimals.
- The U.S. Capitol is located at 38° 53' 23" N, 77° 00' 27" W.
- That is 38 degrees, 53 minutes, and 23 seconds north of the equator and 77 degrees, 0 minutes, and 27 seconds west of the meridian.
- The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France is located at 48.858093 N, 2.294694 E.
- In DMS, this is 48° 51' 29.1348'' N, 2° 17' 40.8984'' E or 48 degrees, 51 minutes, and 29.1348 seconds north of the equator and 2 degrees, 17 minutes, and 40.8984 seconds east of the meridian.
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Lines map latitude
.Latitude and Longitude - Using Coordinates to Find Places on a Map
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