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Video:Latitude and Longitude

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Latitude and longitude are precise ways of locating a person or thing without a reference point. In this video, learn how to read longitude and latitude lines.See Transcript

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Transcript:Latitude and Longitude

Overview of Latitude and Longitude

Latitude and longitude are a precise way of locating a person, place, or thing without the need for any other reference point. Criss-crossing the globe, these lines form a very specific grid that can be seen on maps and globes, and defines the absolute location in a series of numbered degrees that can be understood worldwide.

Lines of Longitude

Running long ways, from the North Pole to the South Pole, lines of longitude, also known as meridians, measure location East and West of the Prime Meridian. One way to remember their distinction is by thinking long-itude. Located in Greenwich England, the Prime Meridian is 0°, from there lines of longitude are drawn to 180° East and 180° West.

Lines of Latitude

Running horizontal around the Earth, lines of latitude, also known as parallels for being parallel to the Equator, measure distance North and South of the equator.   Lines of latitude measure from 90° N which is at the North Pole and 90° South which is at the South Pole, with the equator in the geographic center of the Earth at 0°.

For latitude, one degree is equivalent to just about 69 miles. For longitude, one degree is equivalent to 69 miles at the equator, but as the lines converge toward the poles, the separation distance decreases.

To get an absolute location, each degree is broken down into minutes and seconds; there are 60 minutes in a degree and 60 seconds in a minutes. With this information, everything on Earth can be located. For instance the Eiffel Tower is 40°51’N of the Equator and 2°17’E of the Prime Meridian and the Sydney Opera House is at 33°51’S and 151°12’E.

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