What are Coordinates & How to write them

In this day and age, we can easily look up the location of various locations or hotspots and even find our location with a push of a button. Apps have made navigating foreign countries and unfamiliar cities with ease, but even today, these modern apps use what’s known as coordinates. What exactly are coordinated, and how does one write them? Read on to find out what they do and how you can easily mark down sets of coordinates with ease.

What are Coordinates?

Coordinates, in a nutshell, are sets of numbers that effectively point out a location in a space. One of the first times you’ve probably encountered this would be back in middle or high school, with graphs and the Cartesian coordinate system introduced in mathematics. Like the coordinates used in maps, Cartesian coordinates were written as a pair of numbers corresponding to a certain point in the Cartesian plane.

Don’t worry if you don’t know or don’t remember the Cartesian coordinate system, though, because it has little to do with map coordinates other than its nature. In navigation, coordinates correspond to the latitude and longitude of the Earth. Please think of the Earth as one big flat map, with lines that run across its length and width. These maps represent the longitude and longitude of the planet. It is also worth noting that there are different types of latitude and longitude, but in most maps, the geocentric types of latitude and longitude are used. Let’s dive a bit deeper into what these terms mean.

What is latitude?
Latitude refers to the location of a point based on the equator of the Earth. Essentially, it’s how far north or south the point is from the equator. Based on the geocentric model, there can only be up to 90° N or 90° S in latitude, as that’s the maximum distance a location can be from the Earth’s equator.

What is longitude?
Longitude works similarly to latitude, though instead of basing the distance from the equator, it does so from the prime meridian. If you don’t know where that is, it’s an imaginary line that connects the North and South poles, going through Greenwich, London. If you’ve ever wondered why the GMT system was centered on Greenwich, London, then here’s your answer.
With this vertical line, we can determine which areas are labeled east and west. Some of Africa and a large portion of Europe are east of the prime meridian, whereas the Americas lie in the West. Since the prime meridian is the only point of reference, you can technically go up to 180° W or 180° E.

New York Coordinates

How to read coordinates (latitude and longitude)?

If you want to know how to read GPS & map coordinates, you’re first going to have to learn how to read latitude and longitude. This may seem like a difficult task, as the numbers and symbols used in the coordinates may be daunting to see, but they’re far easier to understand than you think.

To read a set of coordinates, we first need to recognize which coordinates are the latitude and the longitude. Typically, the latitude is written first, which is then followed by the longitude, though to be specific, you can always check the cardinal direction written at the end. If it’s N or S, it’s latitude, and if it’s E or W, it’s longitude.

Then, we’ll need to understand the numbers. A typical set of coordinates looks something like this: 20°45′13″ N, 105°55′43″ E. These numbers and symbols aren’t random, each with a meaning. Coordinates are written in degrees, then minutes, and then seconds. The first set of numbers can be identified as degrees thanks to the degree symbol. The second and third numbers are identified with the ‘and “symbols, representing minutes and seconds, respectively. Basically, they serve the same function as decimals in numbers, with one degree equaling 60 minutes and one minute being equal to 60 seconds.

Coordinates are written in degrees, then minutes, and then seconds. The first set of numbers can be identified as degrees thanks to the degree symbol. The second and third numbers are identified with the ‘and “symbols, representing minutes and seconds, respectively.

How to write coordinates?

Learning how to write latitude and longitude is simple once you understand how to read them. These days, you can easily copy and paste a set of coordinates from your map app, though if you want to put it down on some paper, then here are a few tips. Remember to properly place the symbols correctly, as mistakes such as 2°45’ N and 24°5’ N can lead to entirely different locations on the map. Also, remember the numerical limits. Latitude cannot exceed 90°, whereas longitude cannot go beyond 180°. Minutes and seconds will always be 59 at most, as upon reaching 60, they increment the more significant value by one (60 minutes is one degree, and 60 seconds is one minute).

The Meaning of coordinates on jewelry

Coordinates can be found in jewelry, and they’re more common than you think. Pieces such as coordinates bracelets and coordinates necklaces are standard, and while coordinates rings are more low-profile, they’re also quite popular. Typically, jewelry with coordinates on them signifies a location on Earth that they consider special. This could be their birthplace, the place where they first met their true love, or where an accident they wish never to forget occurred. Other times, the location could be a set of coordinates to a famous landmark, such as the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon.

Should you decide to get jewelry with coordinates for yourself, a small tip – don’t put in any coordinates to private locations, such as your home or your family’s. People who can read coordinates will end up learning otherwise private places, and in the worst possible case, they may end up using this knowledge for bad intentions. While it’s cute to place coordinates to represent a location through numbers, be careful not to reveal too much.