Everyday Math

Math and Traveling

How does one convert latitude and longitude to degrees from readings containing degrees, minutes, and seconds?

It takes simple mathematics to convert the degrees, minutes, and seconds of latitudes and longitudes into degrees only. It helps to know that there are 60 seconds in one minute, and 60 minutes in one degree. Therefore, to translate 65° 45' 36'' (also written as 65:45:36) south latitude into degrees you would do the following calculation: -65 degrees (south makes the number “negative”) + 45 minutes × (1° /60') + 36 seconds × (1’/60'') × (1°/60') = -65.76° latitude.


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