Location on the Earth
The earth is effectively a sphere, so how do we describe where a point is on its surface? The most common way to locate points on the surface of the Earth is by standard, geographic coordinates called latitude and longitude. These coordinates values are measured in degrees, and represent angular distances calculated from the center of the Earth.th is by standard, geographic coordinates called latitude and longitude. These coordinates values are measured in degrees, and represent angular distances calculated from the center of the Earth.
What is latitude?
We can imagine the Earth as a sphere, with an axis around which it spins. The ends of the axis are the North and South Poles. The Equator is a line around the earth, an equal distance from both poles. The Equator is also the latitude line given the value of 0 degrees. This means it is the starting point for measuring latitude. Latitude values indicate the angular distance between the Equator and points north or south of it on the surface of the Earth.
A line connecting all the points with the same latitude value is called a line of latitude. This term s usually used to refer to the lines that represent values in whole degrees. All lines of latitude are parallel to the Equator, and they are sometimes also referred to as parallels. Parallels are equally spaced. There are 90 degrees of latitude going north from the Equator, and the North Pole is at 90 degrees N. There are 90 degrees to the south of the Equator, and the South Pole is at 90 degrees S. When the directional designators are omitted, northern latitudes are given positive values and southern latitudes are given negative values.
What is longitude?
Prime MeridianLines of longitude, called meridians, run perpendicular to lines of latitude, and all pass through both poles. Each longitude line is part of a great circle. There is no obvious 0-degree point for longitude, as there is for latitude. Throughout history many different starting points have been used to measure longitude. By international agreement, the meridian line through Greenwich, England, is currently given the value of 0 degrees of longitude; this meridian is referred to as the Prime Meridian. Longitude values are indicate the angular distance between the Prime Meridian and points east or west of it on the surface of the Earth.
The Earth is divided equally into 360 degrees of longitude. There are 180 degrees of longitude to the east of the Prime Meridian; when the directional designator is omitted these longitudes are given positive values. There are also 180 degrees of longitude to the west of the Prime Meridian; when the directional designator is omitted these longitudes are given negative values. The 180-degree longitude line is opposite the Prime Meridian on the globe, and is the same going either east or west.