location and direction

global positioning system

Satellites continually orbit Earth and can be used to indicate location. A global positioning system receiver detects radio signals from at least four nearby GPS satellites. The receiver measures the time it takes for radio signals to travel from a satellite and then calculates its distance from the satellite using the speed of radio signals. By calculating distances from each of the four satellites the receiver can triangulate to determine its location. You can use a GPS meter to tell you how to get to Old Faithful.


An accurate location must take into account the third dimension. Elevation is the height above or below sea level. Sea level is the average height of the oceans surface or the midpoint between high and low tide. Sea level is the same all around Earth. Old Faithful is higher above sea level than most locations at 7,349 ft (2240 m). Of course, the highest point on Earth, Mount Everest, is much higher at 29,029 ft (8848 m).


Direction is important if you want to go between two places. Directions are expressed as north (N), east (E), south (S), and west (W), with gradations in between. The most common way to describe direction in relation to the Earths surface is with a compass, a device with a floating needle that is actually a small magnet. The compass needle aligns itself with the Earths magnetic north pole. Since the magnetic north pole is 11.5 degrees offset from its geographic north pole on the axis of rotation, you must correct for this discrepancy. Map of the Visitor Center at Old Faithful, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Without using a compass, we can say that to get to Old Faithful, you enter Yellowstone National Park at the South Entrance, drive north-northeast to West Thumb, and then drive west-northwest to Old Faithful. Click image to the left or use the URL below. URL:



How would you find Old Faithful? One way is by using latitude and longitude. Any location on Earths surface or on a map can be described using these coordinates. Latitude and longitude are expressed as degrees that are divided into 60 minutes. Each minute is divided into 60 seconds.



The latitude mentioned above does not locate Old Faithful exactly, since a circle could be drawn that latitude north of the Equator. To locate Old Faithful we need another point - longitude. At Old Faithful the longitude is W110o 4957. Longitude lines are circles that go around the Earth from north to south, like the sections of an orange. Longitude is measured perpendicular to the Equator. The Prime Meridian is 0o longitude and passes through Greenwich, England. The International Date Line is the 180o meridian. Old Faithful is in the Western Hemisphere, between the Prime Meridian in the east and the International Date Line in the west.


A look on a reliable website shows us that Old Faithful Geyser is located at N44o 27 43. What does this mean? Latitude tells the distance north or south of the Equator. Latitude lines start at the Equator and circle around the planet. The North Pole is 90o N, with 90 degree lines in the Northern Hemisphere. Old Faithful is at 44 degrees, 27 minutes and 43 seconds north of the Equator. Thats just about exactly half way between the Equator and the North Pole!

instructional diagrams

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-->  a) is a distance north or south of the equator.

b) is a number between 0 and 100 degrees.

c) runs east and west of the international date line.

d) is divided into 90 degrees, 90 minutes and 90 seconds.

latitude and longitude are used to describe a location

a) relative to the equator.

b) above sea level.

-->  c) on earths surface.

d) using a measurement divided into 90 degrees, 90 minutes and 90 seconds.

the height above or below sea level.

a) longitude

b) latitude

-->  c) elevation

d) direction

a latitude of 44o2743 should be followed by an n or s.

-->  a) true

b) false

earths magnetic north pole and geographic north pole are located at the point where earths axis of rotation intersects the surface.

a) true

-->  b) false

a longitude of 44o2743 should be followed by an n or s.

a) true

-->  b) false

sea level is

a) nearly the same all around earth

b) the average height of the oceans surface

c) the midpoint between high and low tide

-->  d) all of the above

gps stands for

a) global positioning satellites

b) geological positioning system

-->  c) global positioning system

d) global prime system

the highest point on earth is on

a) mount rushmore

-->  b) mount everest

c) mount mckinley

d) mount kilimanjaro

a compass is a device with a floating needle that acts as a magnet point to magnetic north.

-->  a) true

b) false

diagram questions

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