How Do GPS Coordinates Work? 🗺️

3 min read

Morning Longitude and Latitude!

Let’s say you’re in a treasure hunt.

And the next clue you find is this:

Some random coordinates on a piece of paper…

So, what the hell even are coordinates… and how do they work?

Well, coordinates basically split the Earth up into degrees of a circle.

Here's a side-on view of the world - with the degrees going up the side:

And here's a top-down view of the world - with the degrees going around the edge.

Ok now that you understand that, let's look at the first part of our coordinates:

Let's break down what this first bit means:

The minutes and seconds are just smaller parts of a degree to get more precision.

There's 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in a degree.

I know it's weird; they aren't a time thing, just go with it.

So, this first bit is talking about roughly here on the map:

Well, it’s actually 40 + a bit (the bit being the minutes and seconds).

Got it??

Ok, now let's do the second bit.

This one says 73 degrees, 58 minutes, and 15 seconds West.

So that means you're on the west side at about 73 ish degrees

Or about:

So, now you need somewhere that's both about 40 degrees up and 73 degrees west.

And that turns out to be just about here:

New York!

We're getting closer…

And now, if we use the minutes and seconds for more precision, you can narrow it down to this fountain in central park.

Nice! So the next clue must be there.

Good luck treasure hunters!

Stay Cute,
Reece, Henry & Dylan 🌈

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