Determining longitude proved to be much more difficult. In 1553, a Dutch mathematician, Gemma Frisius, described how an accurate clock could be used to determine longitude. It wasn’t until mid-1700’s though that John Harrison, an English carpenter and clock maker, developed a clock that was accurate and sturdy enough for travel that in combination with an instrument called a sextant, longitude could be quickly and accurately measured by people on the move in an ocean-going boat or across uncharted land.
Today we no longer depend on observations of the sun and stars to find our way. We use a constellation of 24 satellites. Originally the United States had the only constellation, now the European Union, Russia, and China have their own constellations. Global Positioning System, GPS, is the name of the system we use on a daily basis.
You can obtain latitude and longitude coordinates in many places: your smart phone, County mapping websites, Google Maps, Google Earth, and if you are looking at one of our land listings they will be in the listing information. There are three ways of displaying the coordinates: Decimal degrees, Degrees Minutes Seconds, and Degrees Decimal Minutes. I prefer Decimal degrees because I find it the easiest to type, but there a number of websites that will allow you to convert the coordinates to your preferred format.
No matter how you get the coordinates, they will work just like a 911 address in your phone or car GPS system, just type them in and punch go. With GPS technology combined with latitude and longitude coordinates you can pinpoint your spot on earth quickly and easily and navigate to any other spot on Earth.