The time it takes to cross 1 degree of longitude depends on the latitude. At the equator, it takes about 111 km or 69 miles to cross 1 degree of longitude. So at a walking pace of 5 km/hr or 3 mph, it would take about 22 hours to walk 1 degree of longitude at the equator. At higher latitudes, 1 degree of longitude gets shorter because longitude lines converge at the poles. At 45° latitude, 1 degree of longitude is about 78 km or 49 miles wide, so it would take around 15 hours to walk.
What determines the distance of 1 degree of longitude?
The distance of 1 degree of longitude depends on the latitude. Longitude lines run from the North Pole to the South Pole like the segments of an orange. At the equator, longitude lines are farthest apart, while at the poles, they converge.
This is because longitude measures east-west distances as an angle relative to the Prime Meridian in Greenwich, London. There are 360 degrees of longitude circling the globe, so each degree is 1/360 of the circumference of the Earth at a given latitude.
The circumference of the Earth is greatest at the equator – about 40,075 km. 1 degree of longitude at the equator is therefore:
Circumference at equator / 360 = 40,075 km / 360 = 111 km
The circumference gets smaller as you go north or south from the equator. At 45° north or south latitude, the circumference is about 28,910 km. So 1 degree of longitude at 45° latitude is:
Circumference at 45° latitude / 360 = 28,910 km / 360 = 78 km
So in summary, at the equator each degree of longitude is 111 km wide, while at 45° latitude it’s only 78 km wide. This convergence is why longitude distances get shorter as you move from the equator toward the poles.
What is the formula for longitude distance?
The formula to calculate the distance of 1 degree of longitude at a given latitude is:
Distance (km) = Cosine(Latitude) x 111.321 km
Where 111.321 km is the length of 1 degree of longitude at the equator.
The cosine function gives the ratio of the circumference at a given latitude to the maximum circumference at the equator. As you move north or south from the equator, the cosine of the latitude gets smaller, resulting in shorter longitude distances.
Here are some examples of the longitude distance at different latitudes:
|Latitude||Longitude Distance (km)|
|0° (Equator)||111.321 km|
|90° (North Pole)||0 km|
This shows how the longitude distance decreases from 111 km at the equator to 0 km at the poles.
How long would it take to walk 1 degree of longitude?
To figure out how long it would take to walk 1 degree of longitude, we need to know:
– The longitude distance at a given latitude
– A walking pace in km/hr
Let’s say we’re walking at a leisurely pace of 5 km/hr.
At the equator, where 1 degree of longitude is 111 km wide, it would take:
111 km / 5 km/hr = 22 hours
At a latitude of 45°, where 1 degree is 78 km wide, it would take:
78 km / 5 km/hr = 15.6 hours
So it takes less time to walk 1 degree of longitude as you move north or south from the equator.
Here are walking times for 1 degree of longitude at different latitudes at a pace of 5 km/hr:
|Latitude||Walking Time (hours)|
Walking faster would reduce the travel time. At a brisk 10 km/hr pace, it would take 11 hours at the equator and 7.8 hours at 45° latitude.
Driving times to cross 1 degree of longitude
Driving times will be much shorter than walking. The time depends on the vehicle speed and road conditions.
On a straight highway at 100 km/hr (60 mph), it would take about:
– 1 hour 10 minutes to cross 1 degree at the equator
– 47 minutes at 45° latitude
Driving on slower local roads at 50 km/hr (30 mph) would take:
– 2 hours 15 minutes at the equator
– 1 hour 30 minutes at 45° latitude
Here are the estimated driving times to cross 1 degree of longitude by car at different latitudes:
|Latitude||Driving Time at 100 km/hr||Driving Time at 50 km/hr|
|0°||1 hour 10 mins||2 hours 15 mins|
|15°||1 hour 5 mins||2 hours 5 mins|
|30°||1 hour||1 hour 55 mins|
|45°||47 mins||1 hour 30 mins|
|60°||33 mins||1 hour 10 mins|
|75°||17 mins||33 mins|
|90°||0 mins||0 mins|
So by car at normal highway speeds, it takes about an hour or less to cross a degree of longitude, compared to 15+ hours of walking.
Flying times across 1 degree of longitude
On a commercial jet flying at typical cruise speeds of 800-900 km/hr, it would take only a matter of minutes to pass through 1 degree of longitude:
– At 900 km/hr, it would take just 7.5 minutes at the equator.
– At a latitude of 45°, it would take only 5.2 minutes.
On an intercontinental flight, an aircraft might cross hundreds of degrees of longitude. But thanks to their high cruise speeds, the total longitude transit only amounts to a few hours.
Here are estimated flight times to cross 1 degree of longitude on a commercial jet:
|Latitude||Flight Time at 900 km/hr|
This shows that thanks to the high speed of air travel, crossing longitude lines takes only a matter of minutes. It would take hours on the ground but is much faster by air.
In summary, the time required to cross 1 degree of longitude depends greatly on latitude as well as the mode of transport:
– At the equator, 1 degree of longitude is 111 km wide
– Walking at 5 km/hr would take around 22 hours to cross
– Driving at 100 km/hr takes about 1 hour 10 minutes
– Flying at 900 km/hr takes just 7.5 minutes
– The longitude distance gets shorter as latitude increases
– At 45° latitude, 1 degree is 78 km wide
– Walking takes 15 hours, driving 47 minutes, and flying just 5.2 minutes
So while traversing 1 degree of longitude on foot would require nearly a day’s walk at the equator, with modern transportation we can cross longitude lines in a small fraction of that time. Air travel provides the fastest way to move east-west by minimizing the impact of longitude distance.