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Finding your Latitude

Latitude is your distance in degrees from the Equator.

The first way, is to find your location on a map, and read the latitude off of the side. An easier way is to use a GPS receiver. If you want to do it the hard way, you can use a sextant. If you own a sextant, I don't need to explain how to use it, that is your problem.

A number of web sites will give you coordinates for cities (or, in the USA, even specific street addresses). The easiest to use is the Getty Research Institute's Thesaurus of Geographic Names. This only gives city-level information, but gives it in an easy-to-read form which can easily be used.

In the USA, Etak and MapBlast! will give latitude and longitude information for street addresses, and AirNav will give latitude, longitude, and altitude information for airports, heliports, and other locations (good for "city" data if you don't want to be too precise about your location!). Australia is covered by the Gazetteer of Australia which includes not only cities and towns, but even railway stations (useful in larger cities for better precision).

For countries not listed above, the Getty Research Institute's Thesaurus of Geographic Names is probably the best resource for low-resolution data (degrees and minutes), but the NIMA Geonet Names Server may have more precise data for some countries.

Some times, the data is in decimal degrees; to convert to degrees/minutes/seconds, multiply the fractional part by 60 (to get minutes and fractional minutes), then multiply the fractional minutes by 60 to get seconds (and fractional seconds).

Why do you care what your Latitude is?

Either you have been listening to too much Jimmy Buffett Music or you want to Polar Align your telescope.
Polar alignment will allow certain types of telescope mounts to track celestial objects.


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