January 05, 2012

#03-002: Latitude

a white sphere against a blue background, with the continents in outline, is encircled by horizontal lines marked with 15, 30, 45, 60, and 75 degrees above and below a line marked "0." The North Pole, South Pole, and Equator are also marked.
Earth with parallels of latitude

Note: Lily and Antonio will have three conversations about geography: here, in Lesson #03-003, and in #03-004. In this lesson, they discuss latitude.

Get Ready: What is the latitude where you live? Give degrees, minutes, and seconds, if possible.

Lily, a student from China, is chatting with her classmate Antonio from Spain in the Common Room of their dorm.

Antonio: Hey, Lily, did you understand that stuff in geography class?

Lily: Latitude and longitude? Sure. Want me to go over my notes with you?

Antonio: That'd be great.

Lily: OK, the starting point for latitude is the Equator, the line around the center of the earth. It's like a belt around a guy's waist.

Antonio: That's easy; there's a country named "Ecuador," which means "equator" in my language.

Lily: Cool! So that's zero degrees latitude.

Antonio: Degrees?

Lily: Yeah. There are 360 degrees in a circle; so starting at the equator, we go one-quarter of the way, or 90 degrees north and south on each side. Four times 90 is 360.

Antonio: Got it. And the North and South Poles are at 90 degrees north and south.

Lily: Exactly. Now, the lines of latitude are called "parallels." If you can't remember which one is latitude, remember that the parallels are like the steps on a ladder.

Antonio: "Laddertude"!

Lily: Ha ha! Now, there are five important Circles of Latitude. After the equator, the next one is at 23 degrees 26 minutes 16 seconds north...

Antonio: Whoa! What?

Lily: Oh, sorry. Each of the 360 degrees is divided into 60 parts called "minutes," and each minute is in 60 parts called "seconds."

Antonio: Like on the clock.

Lily: Sort of. So the Tropic of Cancer is at 23 degrees 26 minutes 16 seconds north, and the Tropic of Capricorn is at the same location but south.

Antonio: OK.

Lily: Finally, the Arctic Circle and Antarctic Circle are at 66 degrees 33 minutes 44 seconds north and south.

Antonio: Let me see if I have this right: from north to south, it goes: North Pole, Arctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle, and South Pole.

Lily: Perfect!

Antonio: Thanks. Let's talk more next time, after I let this sink in.

Lily: Good idea. See ya!

Antonio: Adios!


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Latitude

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. 23 degrees 26 minutes 16 seconds
  2. adios
  3. dorm
  4. go over something
  5. laddertude
  6. let something sink in
  7. parallel
  8. sort of
  9. whoa

  1. a little joke to help Antonio remember "latitude"
  2. review or discuss something
  3. dormitory, a place in a school or company where students or workers sleep
  4. 23° 26' 16"
  5. hold on, wait
  6. Spanish for "goodbye"
  7. like lines running side by side that never meet
  8. not exactly, but close enough
  9. allow time for something to become clear, or remember it

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for January 5, 2012

This lesson received 173 visits on my old site between January, 2012, and July, 2021.

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. f; 3. c; 4. b; 5. a; 6. i; 7. g; 8. h; 9. e