You'll often find degrees given in decimal degrees (121.135°) instead of the more common degrees, minutes, and seconds (121°8'6"). However, it's easy to convert from a decimal to the sexagesimal system.
Difficulty Level: average Time Required: 5 minutes
- The whole units of degrees will remain the same (i.e. in 121.135° longitude, start with 121°).
- Multiply the decimal by 60 (i.e. .135 * 60 = 8.1).
- The whole number becomes the minutes (8').
- Take the remaining decimal and multiply by 60. (i.e. .1 * 60 = 6).
- The resulting number becomes the seconds (6"). Seconds can remain as a decimal.
- Take your three sets of numbers and put them together, using the symbols for degrees (°), minutes (‘), and seconds (") (i.e. 121°8'6" longitude)
- You can choose between decimal degrees and degrees, minutes, and seconds on your GPS.
- Once you have degrees, minutes, and seconds, it's often easier to find your location on most maps (especially topographic maps).
- Though there are 360 degrees in a circle, each degree is divided into sixty minutes and each minute is divided into sixty seconds.
- Latitude & Longitude Resources
- Latitude & Longitude Article
- Distances & Coordinate Systems Resources
- GPS Resources