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How much distance does a degree, minute, and second cover on your maps?

The distances vary. A degree, minute, or second of latitude remains fairly constant from the equator to the poles; however a degree, minute, or second of longitude can vary greatly as one approaches the poles and the meridians converge.

At 38 degrees North latitude (which passes through Stockton California and Charlottesville Virginia):

  • One degree of latitude equals approximately 364,000 feet (69 miles), one minute equals 6,068 feet (1.15 miles), and one-second equals 101 feet. 
  • One-degree of longitude equals 288,200 feet (54.6 miles), one minute equals 4,800 feet (0.91 mile), and one second equals 80 feet.
Illustration showing longitude convergence. Latitude distances remain constant.

 

 

 

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