Degrees, minutes and seconds are used to express the measure of angle sizes and directions. There are 360 degrees in a circle; when relating directions, north is 0 degrees, south is 180 degrees and a full revolution back to north is 360 degrees. Degrees, minutes and seconds can be converted to a decimal equivalent.
Things You'll Need
Set whole degrees equal to their decimal equivalent. For example, in the measure 48 degrees 48 minutes 54 seconds, 48 degrees is the same, whether in decimal or degree form.
Divide the minutes by 60 to get their decimal value in degrees. In the example, 48 minutes divided by 60 is 0.8 degrees. The decimal value of 48 minutes is 0.8 degrees.
Divide the seconds by 60 to get their decimal value in minutes. In the example, 54 seconds divided by 60 is 0.9 minutes. Divide the result by 60 to obtain the decimal equivalent in degrees. In the example, 0.9 minutes divided by 60 is 0.015 degrees.
Add all decimal values to obtain the degree equivalent in decimals. In the example, 48 plus 0.8 plus 0.015 is 48.815 degrees.
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