# How can you determine the latitude of your house?

1. Nov 29, 2011

### wdlang

can anyone determine the latitude of his house without using a GPS?

how people determine the position of a ship in the times of navigation?

this problem has baffled me for a long time.

2. Nov 30, 2011

### I like Serena

Measure how high the northern pole star is above the horizon and bam!
You have your latitude.

Alternatively, measure how high the sun gets at its highest point on March 21st and you have your colatitude.
On another date you need to add a number from a table.

3. Nov 30, 2011

### wdlang

the first idea is very brilliant

but it has still a little bit flaw

the northen pole star is perfectly in the direction of the rotation axis of the earth

does not there exist a method without reference to anything beyond your scope?

4. Nov 30, 2011

### Staff: Mentor

Do you mean mean without looking at the sky?

You might consider a Foucault pendulum.

With reference to your original question, "in times of navigation" people did look at the sky in order to determine their latitude, at least in the "Western world". That's what sextants were for.

Last edited: Nov 30, 2011
5. Nov 30, 2011

### wdlang

ok. but could you determine your latitude in one minute? or even in real time?

suppose on a plane, the latitude is changing quickly all the time

6. Nov 30, 2011