Latitude refers to the geographic coordinate that specifies the north-south position on the Earth's surface. It is measured in degrees, with the equator at 0° latitude, the North Pole at 90°N, and the South Pole at 90°S.

In Depth Explanation of Latitude

The term 'latitude' originates from the Latin word 'lātitūdō', which means 'breadth' or 'width'. The concept of latitude has been crucial in navigation and cartography for centuries. Ancient Greek astronomers and geographers like Ptolemy used the principles of latitude to chart the known world. The system of latitude and longitude is still used today, having been refined through the ages to improve precision.

Latitude lines, or parallels, run east-west across the globe and are used in conjunction with longitude, which runs north-south, to pinpoint exact locations on Earth's surface. This system remains the backbone of modern GPS and other navigation systems. The introduction of the Greenwich Meridian and the development of accurate clocks in the 18th century further enhanced the accuracy of latitude measurements.

A Practical Example of Latitude

An excellent historical usage of latitude is during the Age of Exploration in the 15th and 16th centuries. Navigators such as Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan relied on latitude to find their way across the uncharted waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. By measuring the angle between the horizon and the North Star with a sextant, they could determine their ship's latitude and navigate more accurately to their destinations.

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